FG probes Customs clearance procedures

The Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister for the Economy, Dr. (Mrs.) Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, has set up a committee to investigate the import clearance procedure in use by the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) and also assess the implementation of the nation’s fiscal policy.

The Committee, which was inaugurated by the Minister on 21st November, 2013, has the following as its terms of reference:

i.            Examine the Issue of penalty on valuation/classification of goods in the context of extant law and protocols

ii.            Scrutinise the current procedure for handling overtime, abandoned or contraband cargoes at the Ports, and its consequences for trade facilitation in the light of relevant legislation and guidelines on the subject.

iii.            Look into the handling of discrepant cargoes at the Ports with a view to ascertaining whether or not current practices conform to the Import Guidelines Procedures and Documentation, and other regulations.

iv.            Examine the Implementation of extant Fiscal Policies of Government vis-à-vis the objectives for which the policies were instituted and determine whether implementation is in line with declare objectives.

v.            Assess the general impact of current import clearance practices and procedures on patronage of Nigeria Ports, trade facilitation and public revenue.

vi.            Recommend practical solution to challenges of import clearance procedures and practices if the light of best practices in similar jurisdiction.

vii.            Consider any other matters that may be incidental mandate of the committee

viii.            Submit a report to Government in six (6) weeks from date of inauguration.

The committee, which has since commenced work, is consulting with relevant stakeholders “with a view to obtaining their inputs on measures to enhance trade facilitation in Nigeria.”

In a letter dated 5th December, 2013 with reference number BD 12237/S.368/I/T and exclusively obtained by SHIPS & PORTS DAILY, the Secretary of the committee, one Mr. M. M. Yakubu, asked stakeholders to make submissions on the mandate of the committee “on of before Friday 13″ December 2013.”

Yakubu stated that issues to be considered by the committee include:

1.       Collection of import duties on, and reluctance to allow in agricultural and agro-allied equipment and machinery

2.       Collection of import duties on power sector machinery and equipment in spite of a government circular

3.       Reluctance to accept zero duty and VAT exemption for plants, machinery/equipment, parts and accessories for the generation of electric energy through the utilization of Nigerian gas

4.       Declaration of goods wrongly by importers registered as contraband, though it is allowed for importation under No.25, P. 521 or CET 2008-2012.

5.       Complaints by Customs on the grant of concessions and waivers to some sectors and

6.       Reluctance to allow in machinery and equipment for the solid minerals sector at zero percent duty and VAT exempted.

7.       Status of compliance by FIRS or other relevant authorities of the Employment Tax Policy and Infrastructure Tax Policy, in line with Companies Income Tax Exemption Order 2012, issued by Mr. President

8.       Status of implementation of the concessionary reduction by Mr. President of Import duty rate for Hot Rolled Steel Sheets/Coils from 5% to 0%

9.       Non-adherence with the extant protocols and statutes on Valuation/classification of goods

10.    Imposition of 25% Penalty on alleged infraction of Valuation and Classification Protocols

11.    Wrong classification of imported goods as contraband; and

12.    Wrong classification of goods as overtime, abandoned or contraband and disposition of such classified goods in a manner that is not in line with extant law.