There are strong indications that the Federal Government may have directed the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) to stay action on the implementation of the new import duty and levy on both new and fairly used vehicles imported into the country.
The Federal Government had late last year introduced the new National Automotive Policy (NAP) under which it hiked the duty payable on imported cars to 35 per cent and slammed an additional levy of another 35 percent bringing the total to 70 percent from 20 percent.
National President of the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA), Prince Olayiwola Shittu and Founder of the National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF), Dr. Boniface Aniebonam, both confirmed suspension of the implementation order in separate messages sent to SHIPS & PORTS DAILY.
Public Relations Officer, Tin Can Island Port Command of NCS, Chris Osunkwo, however said that the suspension order had not been communicated to the Command as at Friday.
Clearing and forwarding activities were on Friday paralysed at the Tin Can Island Port and its environs as freight forwarders embarked on a protest over enforcement of the new tariff.
The protest took place barely three days after Customs management issued a circular dated February 28th with number 004/2014 titled “Re- Fiscal Policy Measures for the Automotive Industry” and directed to all Deputy Comptroller Generals, Assistant Comptroller Generals, Zonal Coordinator, Area Controllers and all Unit heads to with immediate effect commence implementation of the policy.
With the new policy in place, a Toyota Camry 2000 model which was hitherto cleared with a duty payment of between N100, 000 and N105, 000 will now pay over N300, 000 as import duty.
The protesters led by Secretary General of the Association of the Nigerian License Customs Agents (ANLCA) Chucks Kanikwu marched round National, Tin can and PTML chanting solidarity songs and lifting placards articulating their grievances with inscription such as “No office holder must drive foreign car”, “35 percent duty and 35 percent levy hike is economically destructive”, and “Okonjo- This is Nigeria, not World Bank” among others.
The protesters who were initially barred by policeman from gaining access into the Tin can Island Port gate however had their way after much persuasion.
Kanikwu told journalists that there is need for government to review the policy as it is yet to create an enabling environment for local manufacturing of cars to thrive.
“The policy is draconian. The government should have a second look at the policy because the plants are not there and the power too is not there. The first thing is to create an enabling environment for the industry to flourish.
“We are still going back to the customs long room to address our people and tell them the next line of action. If they do not hear us, we might call our people and let them see who will come and pay and clear the vehicles,” he said.
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