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Freight forwarders criticise ‘secrecy’ in Customs valuation

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Freight Forwarders under the aegis of National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF), have criticised the lack of transparency in the valuation of vehicles by the Nigerian Customs Service (NCS).

NAGAFF, in a letter to the Comptroller-General, NCS, Hameed Ali, said the vehicle imports valuation is treated with utmost secrecy by officers, who prefer to issue unimaginable computed ex-factory price with a deliberate intent to create room for negotiations with the Customs agents.

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The letter signed by Head of Research and Technical Unit, NAGAFF, Eugene Nweke, reads: “The CGC sir, what we witness as everyday practices is contradictory to these applications as provided under the Notice. Rather, vehicle imports valuation is treated with utmost secrecy by vehicle seat officers who prefer to issue unimaginable computed ex-factory prices with a deliberate intent to create room for negotiations with the Customs agents.

“This avoidable situation thrives because the rules are not transparently defined, thereby prompting acts of arbitrariness, revenue leakages and anti-trade facilitation.

“The reality is that we operate in a regime presumably characterized by unascertainable compromised dutiable values different from the approved value, making it difficult to produce an authentic database and statistics on vehicle imports and corresponding duties and taxes for prompt planning and development objectives of the government.

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“The general question on the lips of forwarders is: Why is it that the compromised values issued as the applicable ex-factory prices are above the original second-hand or auctioned purchase price of the vehicles at the port of origin?

“The most unfriendly aspect is the non-application of the age rebate as contained in the above Notice No. 30. To us, vehicle imports and clearance should not be a protracted issue to attract the prevailing high-handedness,” it stated.

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The group also noted that: “The unfolding events within the Customs ports, especially as it relates to challenges occasioned by high-handedness and frivolousness associated with vehicles valuation and clearance have prompted us to seek your intervention by way of proffering an official clarification and applicable interplay of the extant Customs and Excise Notice No.30 of December 6, 1991, which on page 173 specifically provides guidelines on the importation of used vehicles (Tokunbo).

“The Notice stipulates that the basic price for all vehicles shall be the ex-factory price of the vehicle, excluding freight costs, pre-shipment, insurance charge, local duties and taxes or fees paid in the country of origin, expenses incurred for the purpose of obtaining for the local duties and levies as well as costs of registration overseas.

“The Notice also provides for age rebate on used vehicles, ranging from 10% to 50% of the basic price on condition that the importer can produce evidence that the imported vehicle had been licensed and had been put to use abroad,” he stated.

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