…As NAGAFF accuses FG of confusion
The Nigerian Customs Service (NCS) has begun stakeholders’ summit on the review of Customs & Excise management Act (CEMA) starting with Lagos and South West stakeholders.
While declaring open the Lagos and South West meeting at the Customs Training College, Ikeja on Thursday, the Comptroller General of Customs, Mr. Hameed Ali said the essence of the engagement forum designed to hold in major business cities and Abuja is to avail stakeholders the chances of contributing their experience and understanding ahead of the review by the National Assembly members.
He said “We are now articulating views and we felt it is also important that stakeholders are given opportunity to contribute and even be part of the making of a new CEMA Act.
Every section of stakeholders especially importers and clearing agents attended enmasse. The second engagement forum is billed for Customs Training College, Goron-Dutse, Kano to capture the views of northern importers and exporters and even clearing agents in some dry ports.
Customs revealed further that the third and final engagement forum with stakeholders will be held at the Nigerian Customs Service Zonal Office/NPA, Port Harcourt.
In another development, and on the sidelines of the summit in Lagos, the National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF) called on President Muhammadu Buhari to ascertain why the Nigeria Customs Service allegedly works at cross-purposes with the Central Bank of Nigeria in relations to monetary policy on trade.
This was contained in a letter addressed to the President of the federation, by the National Secretary of the association; Dr. Arthur Igwilo dated August 9, 2016 and made available to Daily Champion in Lagos.
NAGAFF in the letter copied to the Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, the Governor of the CBN, Mr. Godwin Emefiele and two others stated that the stakeholders (freight forwarders and shippers, etc.) expressed worry over the state of affairs in the administration of exchange rate for the purposes of Customs duty payment.
The letter which read in parts said: “Mr. President Sir, may we draw your attention to a forwarding letter from CBN to all authorized dealers and general public with reference no. TED/FEM/FPC/GEN/01|012 of April 30 2014, detailing import guidelines, procedures and documentation under the Destination Inspection Scheme in Nigeria, (these import guidelines as far as we know have not been changed).
“Mr. President Sir, kindly take a critical look at item number (H) of the guideline (copy attached) with the heading import duty payment: The document is very clear as to what exchange rate should be applicable for the purposes of Customs duty collection. Item 1 and 2 of import duty payment guidelines, state as follows; (1) Importer shall continue to pay an administrative charge of 1% for value of all import based on the exchange rate on the approved e-form M. (2) All imports shall continue to be assessed for duty at the CIF value of the goods using the rate of exchange on the approved e-form M”.
Continuing, NAGAFF said “In drawing the attention of the President to Section 37 of the Customs and Excise Management Act (CEMA) Cap 45 LFN 2004, which it said the Customs was referring to in their operations at the moment and which says that, “Except as permitted by or under the Customs laws, no imported goods shall be delivered or removed on importation until the importer has paid to the proper officer any duty chargeable thereon, and that duty shall, in the case of goods of which entry is made, be paid on delivery of the entry to the proper officer”, NAGAFF however noted that for the purposes of its letter it shall be patriotic on its own part to inform the President that the actions and inactions of officers of the Nigeria Customs Service may be in breach of guidelines and due processes in the nation’s international trade procedures and may constitute an abuse of his delegated powers under Section 5 of the Constitution.
The letter further noted that “It is alleged that the various breaches of due processes and rules of engagement on the part of Nigeria Customs Service in the administration of exchange rate for Customs duty payment may be traced to their desire to meet up revenue targets. Others include their deliberate effort to meet up with their schedules for infrastructure, training, administrative and operational cost including welfare of officers and men of the Service. It is in the public domain that 7% commission on collectable revenue due for Customs for the proper management and administration of Customs laws in general may not be adequate. The implication is that if Customs does not meet up or even surpass revenue target, the problem of paying salaries of the officers may constitute a revenue risk and lead to disloyalty on the part of the officers. This may be the remote cause of the misunderstanding between CEMA and CBN monetary policy guideline.
But as a way forward, NAGAFF recommended amongst other that “The 7% commission due to Customs should be reviewed to read 7% of FOB value instead of collectable revenue. This will help Nigeria Customs Service to resolve aforementioned related responsibilities for proper management and administration of Customs laws. The Hon. Minister of Finance, Central Bank of Nigeria, Nigeria Customs Service and Nigerian Shippers’ Council should meet immediately to review and reconcile their positions and differences in favour of trade with regard to exchange rate for Customs duty payment.
Other recommendation presented in the presidential letter noted that “Nigeria Customs should not be allowed further to be a judge in their own case. The relevance of PAAR or otherwise under destination inspection has to be reviewed and concessioned to a private operator because of the inherent abuse therein in its administration and risk management. The earlier a summit is convened by Mr. President over maritime transport and trades in Nigeria the better for the good of the Nigerian economy. This is because there is uncontrollable systemic corruption in the shipping industry, ports and border entry points. That Mr. President may wish to direct forthwith the Hon. Minister of Transport and Finance to harmonize the operations, management and administration of CRFFN and CEMA for the purposes of enhanced revenue collection, compliance and professionalism in the business of freight forwarding and logistics in Nigeria,” NAGAFF letter to Mr. President added.