The Comptroller-General of Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Hammed Ali, on Monday said that the service is seeking the review of import duty on vehicles to 10 per cent.
This according to him is because importers, who are complaining that it is too expensive, have resorted to using ports of adjoining countries. It has also denied Nigeria the duty it would have collected from so many importers of vehicles and others have taken recourse to smuggle them into the country.
The decision to increase the duty to 35 percent for used vehicles and 70 percent for brand new ones was taken to discourage importation of automobile into Nigeria in order to encourage local manufacturing of vehicles. He, however, said that the implementation of the policy has not yielded any positive results several after.
He spoke during the 2019 International Customs Day celebration in Abuja with the theme “Smart boarder for seamless trade, travel and transport”.
He said, “What I suggested which is something we have been suggesting, is on automative duty. If you know how the duty has been shared; we have 35% duty, 35% levy. But if you import a brand new vehicle to Nigeria you pay 70% duty. From what we have done – analysis and statistics, I discovered that this duty has now driven most of our importers to our neighbouring ports.
“Also, it has increased the rate of smuggling into this country. Having interacted with our stakeholders what we discovered is that the sudden increase in duty is what is driving them to other ports.
“And the 35% was for us to encourage our own automative industry in order to ensure that we develop, but 20, 30 years down the road we cannot develop it and we are giving away a lot of money. It does nothing, it is a waste. We have reduced that. It is our hope that statistics and volume of import will increase and therefore the duty collected by Customs will increase.
“So we are advising and we will continue to do that, that government should review the levy. And we are asking that it should be reviewed close to about 10%. If you do that, it means that collecting duty from new vehicle will be about 45% as 35% is the duty and 10% is the levy.
“I am sure that with that we will get an increase in the volume of importation, save the lives of our people because smuggling will reduce, and therefore, we will increase the intake in terms of revenue and therefore the economy will develop.”
The Customs boss noted that the Federal Government has the political will and all it takes to combat smuggling to boost its revenue.
Ali said that if the NCS gets the right equipment to fight smuggling it could double, surpass its 2019 revenue target of N887 billion and even its last year collection of over N1.22 trillion.
He said “Our seaports and airports will be covered by non-altruistic (sic) equipment. That will give us 100% examination of everything that comes into this country. Not only revenue will rise, it will effectively secure this country against illicit importation.”
The Comptroller-General warned that following the emerging trend of mob attacks on operatives of anti-smuggling duties, the NCS will no longer treat lightly any attempt to attack its officers on official duty.
He called on parents, guardians and traditional rulers of border communities to advise their people because the service will not hesitate to use the appropriate force to deal with those who attack Customs officials.