Economy Maritime

Protest over VIN-Valuation enters day two

Protest over VIN-Valuation enters day two
Written by Maritime First

… As Farinto says VIN May Collapse Car Clearing Business***

Protest against Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) Valuation System policy of the Nigeria Customs Service has entered day two.

The protest which started on Monday in Tin Can Island Port and Port and Terminal Multi-Services Limited (PTML) has been extended to the Lagos Port Complex (LPC) Apapa on Tuesday as freight forwarders and licensed customs agents are set to extend the protest to other seaports in the country.

Port operations were paralyzed on Monday as Customs brokers sealed off the popular Car Park C at Tin Can Island Port and PTML terminals over the controversial VIN policy.

The protesters vowed to extend the peaceful protest to Kirikiri Lighter Terminals (KLT) and the Zonal Headquarters of Customs at Harvey Road Yaba, Lagos.

APFFLON Chairman, PTML, Comrade Jude Darrick Ige told newsmen on Monday that the protest will continue on Tuesday and Freight agents will converge at PTML at 11 am before proceeding to LPC as part of the solidarity movement. (This actually took place, today).

Ige stressed that plans are ongoing to also cripple operational activities at Kirikiri Lighter Terminals (KLT) on Wednesday, adding that the associations have agreed to shut down port operations.

Accordingly, he said that the peaceful protest will be systematic in approach as it may likely extend to Harvey Road Yaba, Lagos.

Leader of youth freight forwarders at Tin Can Island Port, Remilekun Sikiru, lamented that the protest will continue until the government listens to the voice of the common man

“We are actually protesting against the inappropriate and unacceptable jerk up of duty Customs imposed on all the vehicles imported into the country”.

But the National Public Relations Officer, DC Bomodi, Nigeria Customs Service while reacting on the protest by agents on VIN-Valuation in a statement on Monday, said “In recent times the consensus among clearing agents on the valuation of used vehicles appear to favour a harmonized value system that is consistent across all Customs platforms in Nigeria.

“They insisted that the same make, and model of cars should be made to pay the same amount of duty.

These agents also demanded the discontinuation of the discounted value method which allowed for the subjective considerations of officers in the Customs Valuation Unit who rely mainly on the book value of vehicles discounted at a fixed rate over time.

“They demand standardization but prefer randomized values.

They demand simplification of trade processes but prefer a little complication here and there.

” For this lot, the contradictions in their demands make sense so long as it translates to the payment of the least tax to the government.

Their propensity to give advice but not to take it smacks of hypocrisy and should be called out by well-meaning Nigerians. ”

Bomodi pointed out that before the introduction of VIN policy a town hall meeting was held across the country about the benefits, adding that the Service was confident that the innovation in its clearing process will satisfy the desires of agents clamouring for change.

He stated that resistance to VIN-Valuation, therefore, comes as a surprise seeing that it was deliberately designed to meet their demands, adding that this will compel the Service to investigate further the motives of those protesting its use.

In the meantime, Customs Commitment to meet it’s N3trillion new revenue target and the desire to ‘fetch money through the introduction of Vehicles Identification Number VIN, may have begun to threaten car importation business in Nigeria.

While Government policy opines that anyone buying a car is not too poor, to pour into Government’s coffers, the Agents whose mandate it is to bring (clear) out the cars from the ports, strongly think the policy is inhuman, destructive and should be reversed.

The Vice President, Association of Nigeria Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA), Prince Kayode Farinto succinctly encapsulated the situation.

“As I talk to you now, boys are apprehensive, there are serious agitations here and there because they are unable to clear their vehicles.

As I talk to you now, there is a total breakdown of system at the seaports; nobody can clear vehicles… and the issue of PAAR is still there! Customs is jerking up PAAR as if we are in Oyingbo market; …even the man at Oyingbo market will give his customers notice that my prices will increase next week,” Farinto painfully explained.

He strongly believes that the Nigerian ports may witness serious upheaval which may lead to congestion in vehicle clearance in the ports due to the alleged high and outrageous inputs of vehicle cost imported to Nigeria by the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS).

The ANLCA Vice President had in a chat with the media on Friday lamented that the VIN valuation policy introduced for all imported vehicles by the Nigeria Customs Service was not helping the nation’s economy as it lacks predictability and would be unable to drive revenue collection.

He maintained that for the last one week, clearance of vehicles had been stopped due to the outrageous VIN values by the Customs.

VIN was recently introduced by the NCS to give uniform and acceptable values to all imported vehicles into Nigeria not minding the port of landing.

Hitherto, vehicles of the same year and made often were charged different duties in different ports in Nigeria.

Narrating the difficulties experienced by Freight Forwarders and Customs Brokers, Farinto said that the main purpose of VIN valuation for imported vehicles had been defeated even as thousands of imported vehicles are currently trapped at the seaports.

“We won’t be tired of informing the Nigerian government what is happening in our industry.

In the last one week, our members were unable to clear vehicles from the ports as a result of the introduction of VIN by Customs.

“Let me take you on memory lane: why should we opt for VIN valuation? You will agree with me that before now, I was one of those that said there was no uniform value on the clearance of vehicles.

For example, if you have 2015 Camry in Tin Can, Apapa and PTML, you will never pay the same duty on them and these vehicles are going to the same market.

“This is causing serious unease for our members, it encourages corruption and it is making us not to have predictability.

One of the first criteria of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) is, there must be predictability in Customs clearance. Hence, we now say okay, give us uniform value or key into that of Ghana system, that is where the issue of VIN came onboard,” Farinto said.

According to him, before Customs implements any policy, it is expected of them to collaborate with stakeholders, especially the licensed Customs brokers, adding that Customs needs to subject their value to public criticism for stakeholders to have their inputs.

Expatiating further, he pointed out that the introduction of VIN has made the clearance of cargoes,  particularly vehicles stagnant in the last four days, vehicles are accumulating storage at the nation’s seaports.

“We are now calling on Customs to invite us, subject the values to criticism because you cannot shave our head in our absence.

The legal notice 30 talks about ware and tier, rebate, once a vehicle is bought in 2022 in America, if you buy a car in January 1 and you drive it from Houston to Texas to far north, once it is used, it depreciates, 10% depreciation law comes in, same thing everywhere in the whole world.

It is a standard thing.

“It is unfortunate in Nigeria now because of the fact that nobody cries out.

But importers are feeling it.

These agents entered into an agreement with their importers; collecting bills of lading and charging them before the arrival of the vehicles.

The vehicles arrive now, but the agents are unable to clear them because we are introducing VIN valuation.

“We are not saying you should not introduce VIN valuation.

What we are saying is that, if you look at the value in the VIN valuation, it’s very outrageous.

“For example, I have three examples here: I look at the system and I look at MAZDA 2007 vehicle, the system is giving them over $5000.

And what is the value of the 2007 vehicle in the market? You can even view it in the American market.

“Another one, we have an Hunda 2013 that was bought for around $6000 or $7000.

If you access the VIN value, it will give you over N2 million as duty and if you convert it to dollars, that is over $15000.

These are things that are killing our economy.

Another one is 2009 Honda, which ordinarily, the system is giving over $6000, meanwhile, it is less than $2000 when we were even clearing it,” he said.

Farinto insisted that the purpose of embracing the VIN is to make sure it reduces the human to human contact, discourages corruption and it becomes uniform, saying that it is only in Nigeria that clearing procedure now looks like in the Banana Republic; a discouraging and frustrating affair, where even clearing agents are seriously agitating.

“The VIN should be such that when you clear your vehicle, anywhere within Nigeria, the moment you access it through the VIN nobody queries you on the road, no Customs officer will stop you on the road unnecessarily.

But because Customs lacks professionalism, I’m very sure they have not to work in tandem with the Tariff and Valuation departments because If they work in tandem with the tariff department all these things would have been harmonised that is why we are where we are now.

It could be recalled that freight forwarders protested the VIN valuation policy at the PTML command recently, calling for a review or manual valuation.

 

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Maritime First