Outrage as Customs increases import duty for second time in one month

As reported exclusively by SHIPS & PORTS DAILY on Thursday; the Nigeria Customs Service has formally adjusted the dollar exchange rate with which it calculates tariffs on cargoes imported into the country from N282 to N313 to the U.S. dollar.

The adjustment, which took effect from yesterday (Aug. 1), effectively translates to an increase in import duties by 11%.

This is the second time Customs would be increasing the import duty on Nigerian-bound cargoes in one month. The first adjustment, which translates to 43% hike in import duty was implemented on July 1, when the Comptroller-General, Hameed Ali, directed that the dollar rates used for calculating import duty be increased from N197 to N286 to a dollar.

Cumulatively, the two adjustments translate to a 60% hike in import duty in one month.

When contacted, Customs spokesman, Wale Adeniyi while confirming the development to SHIPS & PORTS DAILY correspondent yesterday, however explained that exchange rate is not determined by the NCS.

He said, “We are only following the CBN rates. Customs does not fix rate. If CBN adjust the rates, that is the extant rate and our law provides that we use the extant rate. So that is what we are doing. We don’t have any rate of our own. Whatever the extant exchange rate is, applies on the day of declaration.”

On complaints about importers who have opened their Form ‘M’ at the former rate of N282, Adeniyi said, “I believe that the circular must have been issued and if there are transition period, it would have specified. If CBN tells us there are transition period, of course that will apply.”

Reacting to the development, National Publicity Secretary, Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agent (ANLCA) Kayode Farinto told SHIPS & PORTS DAILY that his association was surprised at the development.

“There was no circular from customs we just woke up this morning (Monday) to see that Customs has for the second time change the exchange rate to N313 for all declarations. This is absurd, wrong and barbaric considering the fact that many importers have done their transactions and opened Form M at N282.

“This will sure have its backlash effect because the government is actually taking people for a ride. Leaders in the maritime industry for once need to come together to fight this injustice,” he said.

The Shippers’ Association of Lagos State said its members would abandon their cargoes at the port over the import duty hike.


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