Negative reactions trail Customs’ 2021 revenue figure

Declaration of excess revenue by the Nigerian Customs Service (NCS) amid low cargo throughputs has raised concerns among stakeholders, BAYO AKOMOLAFE reports


In trade facilitation, Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) is required to adhere to valuation on imported goods and other aspects of international trade, including statistics, quota and licensing arrangements, taxes and other charges levied on imports.


However, placing revenue generation above trade facilitation has been one of the major challenges faced by importers and exporters at the seaports and borders under the guise of protecting local manufacturing firms.


For instance, some of the tariffs used by Customs, such as five per cent duty on raw materials, 10 per cent on intermediate goods, 20 per cent on finished goods, 35 per cent on imports into strategic sectors, levies, excise and valued added tax (VAT) have posed major obstacles to trade facilitation, leading to false declaration, undervaluation, concealment, undervaluation, false description of imports, under invoicing, smuggling of banned items, erratic application of customs regulations, lengthy clearance procedures, high berthing and unloading costs and corruption.


While the service made huge revenue declaration at the end of the year, importers complained of excessive tariffs place on their consignments. Worried by the challenges, the Chairman, Registered Board of Trustees (BOT), Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA), Alhaji Taiwo Mustapha, attributed the 2021 revenue generation of N2.2 trillion by NCS to outrageous value charges placed on imported goods.


Comptroller General of the service, Col Hameed Ali (rtd), described high revenue collection as a result of the resolute pursuit of what was right and willingness to adapt to changes brought about by global health challenges occasioned by COVID- 19.




According to him, the service revenue generation profile had continued to be on the rise annually, following the on-going reforms in the service.


He explained that the Service had insisted on reforms, which include strategic deployment of officers strictly using the standard operating procedure, strict enforcement of extant guidelines by the tariff and trade department.


He noted: “NCS’ management recognises the selfless efforts of officers and men who remained undaunted throughout the year resulting in these achievements. NCS remains totally committed to the course of protecting national security and economy.


“We call on Nigerians, especially the business community, to support NCS as our borders open to African Continental Free Trade Agreement (Af- CFTA) in order to benefit from the trade agreement and other cross border activities.”




Notwithstanding the service’s explanation of its success, Mustapha accused NCS of imposing outrageous value on imported goods in a bid to meet revenue target, saying that it was a development that remained a major concern for businesses in the country.


He noted: “As at the time the Federal Government gave Customs that target, what was the exchange rate? If the exchange rate was about N306 or thereabout when the target was given, as at today, the exchange rate was N404.


So, if Customs said they have been able to generate N2.2 trillion, it is nothing but basically has to do with the increase in exchange rate on the system.


“One of the issues we raised with the Customs management when we met was that the valuation system has been so outrageous and it is killing trade facilitation. Virtually every Customs officer has become a valuation officer and that we have rejected.


Customs has a valuation unit and the unit should be allowed to do the job, but as it is today, even Federal Operations Unit, Strike Force unit do valuation job.


“While we want Customs to continue to do the job, we want them to put a human face to handling certain issues because there has been a lot of highhandedness in some qua  ters and we want that to be resolved.”


Mustapha noted that there was need for the Customs management to address the highhandedness of some of its personnel, which he said was killing trade.




Also, the Congregation of Registered Freight Forwarding Practitioners of Nigeria (CREFFPON) called for reduction in the cost of doing business in the Nigerian ports in 2022.


The group’s Chairman, Comrade Edwin Chukwudire Obi, said that CREFFPON was poised to mobilise the coming together of industry practitioners to cross fertilise ideas and cluster professional energy to make the industry thrive better in the year 2022.


Obi explained that the cost of doing business in the country’s ports was very expensive and had not add up towards a healthy economy, saying that the ports within the region had positioned themselves to transshipment hub and ready for prompt participation in the African Continental Free Trade Area regime.


Excess revenue


He noted: “The shipping companies, terminal operators, Customs and others were all declaring excess revenue cum profits, amidst low cargo throughputs, noting that something was wrong somewhere in their mode of operations.


‘‘The CREFFPON wish to state clearly that, the essence of an economic regulator in the industry is gradually losing steam, and we hope that the new agenda will revamp the industry by instituting an industry pricing system that promotes competiveness and meets the international best practices.”


Last line


There is need by government to review the cost of doing business in the country’s ports, which had been adjudged as very expensive in the West African region




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