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Stranded vehicles litter ports over controversial CET levy

By Sulaimon Salau
08 May 2022   |   4:06 am
Thousands of vehicles are currently littering the Lagos ports as a result of the brouhaha between the Customs brokers and the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), over the controversial 15 per cent Common External Tariff (CET) Levy, lingers.

Lagos ports . Photo: STEARSNG

Thousands of vehicles are currently littering the Lagos ports as a result of the brouhaha between the Customs brokers and the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), over the controversial 15 per cent Common External Tariff (CET) Levy, lingers.

The abandoned vehicles are now accumulating demurrage and rents, which creates serious bottleneck to revenue collection and impediment to trade.

With the Customs changing the controversial 15 per cent National Automotive Council (NAC) levy on motor vehicles imported into the country to 15 per cent Common External Tariff (CET) levy, the clearing agents have abandoned vehicle clearing, describing the levy as illegal.

The clearing agents, who have threatened to shutdown activities at the Lagos ports any moment from now, decried the ‘desperation’ of the NCS on the imposed levy.

President, National Council of Managing Director of Licensed Customs Agents (NCMDLCA), Lucky Amiwero, in a letter to President Mohammadu Buhari, which was obtained by The Guardian, said, “the imposition of common External Tariff (CET) levy of 15 per cent on Motor vehicles that is not backed by any law or approved in the Finance Act of 2020 and 2021 and not provided in any law of the land and assessed on motor vehicles by Nigeria Customs Service (NCS)”.

He said: “There is no such thing as CET levy of 15 per cent either on motor vehicles or goods, the only approval is on ECOWAS trade liberalization levy (ETLS) of 0.5 per cent, the introduction of CET levy is strange to our domestic law and the ECOWAS convention on import duties and levies assessment and collection”.

Amiwero explained: “The shifting from NAC levy of 15 per cent to CET levy of 15per cent, by the Customs contravenes the principle of World Customs Organization WCO, Kyoto convention on the simplification and harmonization of Customs procedure, the World Trade Organization under the Agreement on Trade Facilitation Agreement (ATF) which core principle is predictability, consistency and transparency on trade information, fees and charges Imposed on in connection with importation and exportation, which create confusion and impediments,” he said.

Amiwero said many vehicles are now being abandoned at the seaports due to the confusion on levy imposition by NCS.

“As a result of the confusion of the shift from NAC levy of 15 per cent to CET levy of 15 per cent without any backed legislation, many vehicles are now abandoned at the port, accumulating demurrage and rents, which creates serious bottleneck to revenue collection and impediment to trade, especially when is not covered under any domestic law, the only approval for levy for motor vehicles of 8703 cars is five per cent by the National Assembly and signed in to law by the president.

“We hereby wish the Federal Government to quickly save the trading community by intervention, so that the proper thing will be done and the port goes back to normalcy,” he said.

Also, the Taskforce Chairman of Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) at Tin Can Island Port, Alhaji Rilwan Amuni condemned the desperation with which the customs service is trying to generate revenue at all costs.

“When the customs found that we are shouting on them on the 15 per cent NAC, they have ran to change the nomenclature to CET Levy. We called some of our colleagues operating under ECOWAS, they told us there is nothing like CET Levy in their own column”

“If you compute the cost insurance and freight, the duty and the NAC, VAT, ETLS and seven per cent surcharge, you would find out that we are paying more now compared to when we pay 35 per cent duty, it amounts to double taxation” he said.