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Agents decry double taxation as 3,650 used vehicles arrive

As 10 roll-on roll-off vessels are jostling for space at the Port and Terminal Multi-services Limited (PTML), Tincan Island Port, Lagos this month, Customs agents have described the amount they will pay on the new 15 per cent Common External Tariff (CET) Levy introduced by Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) as double taxation. This is even as thousands of vehicles have been abandoned at Tincan Port in Lagos in the last two months. Expected at PTML in May 2022 alone are ships laden with 3,650 used vehicles. According to the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA)’s Shipping Position, Grande Dakar, Grande Benin and Republica Argentina will berth between Wednesday and Saturday this week with 400 units, 300 units and 350 units of used vehicles respectively. Others that are seeking berthing space are Grande Luanda with 400 units; Grande Congo, 350 units; GrandeTogo, 350 units; Grande Cotonou, 400 units; Grande Abidjan, 400 units, Grande Senegal, 400 units and Grande Acacu, 300 units.

Besides the incoming vehicles, agents said that the abandoned vehicles were now accumulating demurrage and rents, while some had been declared as overtime cargoes because they have spent more than 28 days in the port. The Taskforce Chairman of Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA), Tin Can Island Port chapter, Alhaji Rilwan Amuni, who condemned the desperation at which the Customs Service was trying to generate revenue at all costs, said that there was nothing like CET levy in neighbouring ports. He noted: “When the customs found that we are shouting on them on the 15 per cent National Automotive Council (NAC), they have changed 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 of insurance and freight, the duty and the NAC, VAT, ECOWAS Trade Liberalisation Scheme (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 explained that some importers and agents had abandoned their vehicles because of the new levy. Worried by the levy, the President, National Council of Managing Director of Licensed Customs Agents (NCMDLCA), Lucky Amiwero, in a letter to President Mohammadu Buhari, said that the imposition of CET levy of 15 per cent on motor vehicles was not backed by law or approved in the Finance Act of 2020 and 2021. Amiwero noted: “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 Liberalisation Scheme (ETLS)’s levy 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. “The shifting from NAC levy of 15 per cent to CET levy of 15 per cent by the Customs contravenes the principle of World Customs Organisation (WCO), Kyoto Convention on the simplification and harmonisation of Customs procedure, the World Trade Organisation under the Agreement on Trade Facilitation Agreement (ATF), which core principle is predictability, consistency and transparency on trade information, fees and charges imposed in connection with importation and exportation, which create confusion and impediments.” Amiwero said many vehicles were 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 it’s 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 into 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 noted.

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