By Steve Agbota
The Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) has debunked the allegation raised by the Association of Motor Dealers of Nigeria that it increased import duty to 10 per cent on imported used vehicles in the country.
Speaking on a national television programme yesterday, NCS, National Public Relations Officer, Deputy Comptroller, Timi Bomodi, said that the service does not have the powers to impose or arbitrarily increase duty payable on any item imported into the country, saying that there was no element of truth in the claims by the auto dealers.
He added that the Service in agreement with relevant stakeholders comprising vehicle importers, freight forwarders and clearing agents introduced an automated system called the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) Valuation System, determines the value and import duty payable on any vehicle based on the make and year of manufacture without any human interference or intervention.
According to him, the introduction of the new automated system, which came on stream about two years ago, was in response to protests by clearing agents over the manual determination of the value of imported vehicles and duty paid on them by the valuation officers of the service, which was calculated then based on the tariff books and year of manufacture of the vehicle in question.
He said the service has already tackled the issue of arbitrary hike in the tariffs on used vehicles, adding that the service has an automated system called the VIN Valuation System and the system does is that it traces the make and model of each vehicle starting from the year of manufacture and begins to calculate the value at the time based on a fixed rate of depreciation and the appropriate value is attributed to that vehicle.
Also featuring on the same national television programme, Chairman, Lagos chapter of the association of motor dealers, Mr. Metche Nnadiekwe, said that there was an astronomical rise in the tariff paid on used vehicles, especially in the last three or four months.
He for instance, whereby duty paid on a certain category of used vehicles increased from N600, 000 to N1.6 million within a period of three-four months and had just been increased again by about N500, 000 in the last two weeks, which he argued constitutes a course for concern, given current economic realities in the country.
“When we pay these amounts and you know we are selling to Nigerians; you know what would happen. In fact, currently, we are not selling because of high prices. The families of these dealers are suffering, where would Nigerians get the money to pay these high prices?
“Go to most vehicle dealer shops, everything is stagnant, schools have resumed after Christmas and New Year, we cannot sell to send our children back to school. I think that some of us in this business should be consulted before these hikes in duty but what rather happens is that when you wake up, you see that another increment has been done.
“It does not augur well, it makes us feel that we are nobody, but we are contributing to the economy of this nation, we are providing employments to people, who would have been armed robbers or kidnappers but instead of the government commending us, the government is punishing us with increment in tariffs without consulting us,” he lamented.