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Agents withdraw service as Customs begins implementation of 35% levy on imported vehicles

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There was palpable tension at the PTML command of the Nigerian Customs Service (NCS) yesterday as clearing agents and freight forwarders withdrew their service over what they described as hurried implementation of the 35 percent levy on imported used vehicles by the NCS. But Customs authorities said the implementation was not on used vehicles popularly known as ‘tokunbo’ but on brand new imported vehicles.

Speaking to our correspondent, the Chapter Chairman of the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA), Bola Adeniran said the agents were taken aback when they got to work to see that the 35 percent level had been inputed into the Customs system.

Adeniran said the implementation of the 35 percent level was scheduled to take off in January 2014 but was hurriedly implemented by the Customs high command without consulting or informing them.

He said, “Agents are not satisfied with the 35 percent levy that was hurriedly implemented because the government said it will start by January but it was a surprise when we all came to work this morning to see that the Customs has already started implementing it.

“We were not informed neither were we told because we believe if something is to happen they should inform us because we are the revenue collectors not Customs but no one told us anything but when we withdrew our service, the Area Controller came over here to address us.

“It was when we withdrew our service that the Controller came out but we are not comfortable because they are hiding something from us because they said it is for new car with zero speedometer but we are asking the Controller to tell us what he meant which he has not done.”

When contacted, Public Relations Officer of the PTML Customs command, Steve Okonma said that the command was only implementing the 35 percent levy on brand new vehicles and not used vehicles.

“The implementation of 35 percent levy was on new and not used vehicles because implementation for used vehicles will be next year.

“What we are implementing is for new, CAC addressed them but they are not satisfied. I don’t know what they want us to do. They said they have punched and we tell them to come and we will help them but they are not satisfied but the implementation is for new and not used vehicles,” Okonma stated.

On the sudden implementation of the levy without prior notice to importers and agents, the Customs image maker said, “Even our command was not informed, we just woke up and saw it and we told them it was for new vehicles and not used vehicles, because we know agents are more concerned about used vehicles.”

He however said that the proof that the implementation was for new vehicles was evident in the HS code.

But Public Relations Officer, PTML chapter of ANLCA, Adeola Ganny said Customs authorities at PTML deceived agents by giving them the wrong HS Code.

“87032329.29 was the HS code they asked us to use, the code was not meant for vehicles and if used, it will give wrong valuation that will lead to penalty. The HS code we are using before was 87033212.20 for car and jeep and 87043320.00 for trucks but the HS code for jeeps and cars mow carry 25 percent levy while that of trucks and vans carry 10 percent without decreasing the CIF,” he stated.

He described the sudden implementation of the levy as a ploy to meet Customs’ revenue target of N1.2 trillion for this year.

With the implementation of the 35% levy in addition to 35% import duty, the effective tariff on imported vehicles now stands at 70%.

Implementation of the new vehicle tariff is part of the Federal Government’s new national automotive policy which aims to discourage importation of vehicles in favour of local assembly. Many stakeholders and interest groups have however condemned hurried implementation of the policy.

The National Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (NACCIMA) last week described the policy as anti-people with the potential of increasing the hardship faced by Nigerians.—Ships and Ports

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WAIVER CESSATION: Igbokwe urges NIMASA to evolve stronger collaboration with Ships owners

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…Stresses the need for timely disbursement of N44.6billion CVFF***

Highly revered Nigerian Maritime Lawyer, and Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Mike Igbokwe has urged the Nigeria Maritime Administration and safety Agency (NIMASA) to partner with ship owners and relevant association in the industry to evolving a more vibrant merchant shipping and cabotage trade regime.

Igbokwe gave the counsel during his paper presentation at the just concluded two-day stakeholders’ meeting on Cabotage waiver restrictions, organized by NIMASA.

“NIMASA and shipowners should develop merchant shipping including cabotage trade. A good start is to partner with the relevant associations in this field, such as the Nigeria Indigenous Shipowners Association (NISA), Shipowners Association of Nigeria (SOAN), Oil Trade Group & Maritime Trade Group of the Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (NACCIMA).

“A cursory look at their vision, mission and objectives, show that they are willing to improve the maritime sector, not just for their members but for stakeholders in the maritime economy and the country”.

Adding that it is of utmost importance for NIMASA to have a through briefing and regular consultation with ships owners, in other to have insight on the challenges facing the ship owners.

“It is of utmost importance for NIMASA to have a thorough briefing and regular consultations with shipowners, to receive insight on the challenges they face, and how the Agency can assist in solving them and encouraging them to invest and participate in the maritime sector, for its development. 

“NIMASA should see them as partners in progress because, if they do not invest in buying ships and registering them in Nigeria, there would be no Nigerian-owned ships in its Register and NIMASA would be unable to discharge its main objective.

The Maritime lawyer also urged NIMASA  to disburse the Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund (CVFF)that currently stands at about N44.6 billion.

“Lest it be forgotten, what is on the lips of almost every shipowner, is the need to disburse the Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund (the CVFF’), which was established by the Coastal and Inland Shipping Act, 2003. It was established to promote the development of indigenous ship acquisition capacity, by providing financial assistance to Nigerian citizens and shipping companies wholly owned by Nigerian operating in the domestic coastal shipping, to purchase and maintain vessels and build shipping capacity. 

“Research shows that this fund has grown to about N44.6billion; and that due to its non-disbursement, financial institutions have repossessed some vessels, resulting in a 43% reduction of the number of operational indigenous shipping companies in Nigeria, in the past few years. 

“Without beating around the bush, to promote indigenous maritime development, prompt action must be taken by NIMASA to commence the disbursement of this Fund to qualified shipowners pursuant to the extant Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund (“CVFF”) Regulations.

Mike Igbokwe (SAN)

“Indeed, as part of its statutory functions, NIMASA is to enforce and administer the provisions of the Cabotage Act 2003 and develop and implement policies and programmes which will facilitate the growth of local capacity in ownership, manning and construction of ships and other maritime infrastructure. Disbursing the CVFF is one of the ways NIMASA can fulfill this mandate.

“To assist in this task, there must be collaboration between NIMASA, financial institutions, the Minister of Transportation, as contained in the CVFF Regulations that are yet to be implemented”, the legal guru highlighted further. 

He urged the agency to create the right environment for its stakeholders to build on and engender the needed capacities to fill the gaps; and ensure that steps are being taken to solve the challenges being faced by stakeholders.

“Lastly, which is the main reason why we are all here, cessation of ministerial waivers on some cabotage requirements, which I believe is worth applause in favour of NIMASA. 

“This is because it appears that the readiness to obtain/grant waivers had made some of the vessels and their owners engaged in cabotage trade, to become complacent and indifferent in quickly ensuring that they updated their capacities, so as not to require the waivers. 

“The cessation of waivers is a way of forcing the relevant stakeholders of the maritime sector, to find workable solutions within, for maritime development and fill the gaps in the local capacities in 100% Nigerian crewing, ship ownership, and ship building, that had necessitated the existence of the waivers since about 15 years ago, when the Cabotage Act came into being. 

“However, NIMASA must ensure that the right environment is provided for its stakeholders to build and possess the needed capacities to fill the gaps; and ensure that steps are being taken to solve the challenges being faced by stakeholders. Or better still, that they are solved within the next 5 years of its intention to stop granting waivers”, he further explained. 

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Breaking News: The Funeral Rites of Matriarch C. Ogbeifun is Live

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The Burial Ceremony of Engr. Greg Ogbeifun’s mother is live. Watch on the website: www.maritimefirstnewspaper.com and on Youtube: Maritimefirst Newspaper.

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Wind Farm Vessel Collision Leaves 15 Injured

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…As Valles Steamship Orders 112,000 dwt Tanker from South Korea***

A wind farm supply vessel and a cargo ship collided in the Baltic Sea on Tuesday leaving 15 injured.

The Cyprus-flagged 80-meter general cargo ship Raba collided with Denmark-flagged 31-meter wind farm supply vessel World Bora near Rügen Island, about three nautical miles off the coast of Hamburg. 

Many of those injured were service engineers on the wind farm vessel, and 10 were seriously hurt. 

They were headed to Iberdrola’s 350MW Wikinger wind farm. Nine of the people on board the World Bora were employees of Siemens Gamesa, two were employees of Iberdrola and four were crew.

The cause of the incident is not yet known, and no pollution has been reported.

After the collision, the two ships were able to proceed to Rügen under their own power, and the injured were then taken to hospital. 

Lifeboat crews from the German Maritime Search and Rescue Service tended to them prior to their transport to hospital via ambulance and helicopter.

“Iberdrola wishes to thank the rescue services for their diligence and professionalism,” the company said in a statement.

In the meantime, the Hong Kong-based shipowner Valles Steamship has ordered a new 112,000 dwt crude oil tanker from South Korea’s Sumitomo Heavy Industries Marine & Engineering.

Sumitomo is to deliver the Aframax to Valles Steamship by the end of 2020, according to data provided by Asiasis.

The newbuild Aframax will join seven other Aframaxes in Valles Steamship’s fleet. Other ships operated by the company include Panamax bulkers and medium and long range product tankers.

The company’s most-recently delivered unit is the 114,426 dwt Aframax tanker Seagalaxy. The naming and delivery of the tanker took place in February 2019, at Namura Shipbuilding’s yard in Japan.

Maritime Executive with additional report from World Maritime News

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