Harmonize customs duties to remove discretionary powers from valuation officers, stakeholders tell Ali

Clearing agents and stakeholders operating at the ports have called on the Comptroller General of Customs, Hameed Ali to expunge the discretionary powers given to officers especially those serving at the valuation and releasing units.

The clearing agents who spoke with SHIPS & PORTS DAILY in separate interviews said the use of discretionary powers by officers is the major reason why officers will always issue different value of a particular item at different ports.

According to them, the amount an agent pays for a particular item depends on the bargaining power and the arrangement reached with a valuation officer.

While appealing to the Customs boss to look at the issue, the agents said it has increased level of corruption among the officers.

Deputy National President, Transportation Logistics, National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF), Chris Agba said there is need for uniformity in Customs value.

He said “There is supposed to be uniformity in customs value because the customs high command is never divided. What applies in Tin can should also apply in Apapa and other commands. So when you have differentials as it relates on valuation it makes the whole thing look funny. There is supposed to be uniformity when you talk about valuation.

Also speaking a customs officer who craved anonymity said the use of discretion by officers is not helping trade noting that customs duty should be harmonised.

“That discretion should be removed because it is not helping trade at all. If an officer likes your face, he will tell you go an pay anything you like but if he doesn’t like your face, he will slam you with high tariff. When the wrong person now occupies that kind of position, there will be problem and many of them are wrong people in the right position.

Continuing he said “If anybody gets angry and takes the matter up, the Service will pay dearly for the disharmony, so it should be harmonised

On his part, Deputy Director, Compliance Monitoring and Enforcement, Nigerian Shippers Council (NSC), Cajetan Agu appealed to the customs boss to look at the differential rate in customs duty and perhaps reform the valuation and assessment process to eliminate human contact.

“Is it possible for customs to reform the valuation and assessment process so as to remove human to human contact? If an agent clears his consignment without any contact with the customs officer, it gives customs officer the freedom to carry proper assessment and give the duty to be payable,” he said.

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