Senators vow to revoke auto policy and other anti-trade measures 

Chairman, Senate Committee on Customs and Excise, Senator Hope Uzodinma yesterday said the upper legislative chamber would review some of the trade policies including the contentious National Automotive Policy of created by the administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan.

Speaking yesterday during a meeting with Customs officials and other stakeholders at the Lagos Port Complex, Apapa, Uzodinma said most of the country’s policies are anti-trade, favouring only neighbouring countries.

He said 85 percent of cargoes landed in Cotonou Port, Benin Republic, find their way into the Nigerian market.

“We have seen that some of the trade policies are skewed and they are favouring more foreigners than Nigerians.

“We want the opposite to be the case and in doing that, we will change some of the policies that have not helped local empowerment.

“It is so sad to note that 85 to 90 percent of cargoes going to the Republic of Benin still find their way into the Nigerian market.

“The economy of Cotonou if care is not taken will be better than our economy, but we will say no to that.

“It is only in Nigeria that the cost of bringing a new car is higher than the cost of bringing in a second hand (car).

“We are looking at all this including the auto policy that is making those bringing cars go to Cotonou; we are reviewing it. “The 35 percent (tariff on imported vehicles) is encouraging smuggling and it is skewed to an interest that is not in Nigeria. So we will be bold and courageous to cancel it,” he said.

Uzodinma also asked the Controller, Apapa Command of the Nigeria Customs Service to provide his committee details of revenue it generated and the value of goods it seized in the last three years.

He said the request was part of the committee’s investigative oversight of Customs activities at the port “due to its dwindling revenue generation”.

He said in the face of the dwindling price of oil in the global market, the government has shifted attention to non-oil revenue agencies including the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) and the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) among others to help finance its budget.

Customs, he argued, would be able to maximise its revenue generation if the enabling environment is created including full automation of its processes, which he said would improve turnaround time at the port.

He said with an enabling environment, trade will be facilitated and smuggling reduced to its barest minimum.

He urged stakeholders most of whom are clearing agents and freight forwarders to support Customs to improve on its revenue collection by educating importers who he said are “ignorant”.

While assuring the clearing agents that Senators would work to create the right regulatory environment for them to operate, he said the committee plans to make new law for Customs that will help block revenue leakage.

Zonal Coordinator in charge of Zone ‘A’ Assistant Comptroller General (ACG), Charles Edike told the Senators that despite the decline in the volume of import into the country, Apapa command had maintained its position as the flagship command of NCS.

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