From Uche Usim, Abuja
The Comptroller-General of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Mr Hameed Ali, indicated on Tuedsday that the proposed slash in duties on vehicles and tractors from 35 to 10 per cent will likely take off next week, as the management was expecting an official communication from the Finance Ministry on it any moment from now.
Ali made the disclosure in Abuja at the 2021 edition of the International Customs Day celebrations themed: “Customs Bolstering Recovery, Renewal and Resilience for Sustainable Supply Chain”.
According to him, the vehicle tariff reduction, contained in the draft 2020 Finance Bill, was initiated by Customs to ease the scathing transportation cost in the country due to the high cost of vehicles.
Ali noted that the Service pushed for the reduction against all odds, despite the sustained attacks on him by some sections of the public.
He said: We are the proponent of the new tariff. I’ve been torn apart by many people criticising it, saying I used my connection to get it done.
“But it is in the overall interest of Nigeria. Now, it has become law. We’re now waiting for the Finance Minister to give us a formal conveyance of that Act. Once we receive it, we commence implementation immediately and inform our commands.
“We are hoping that latest by next week, it will become operational”, Ali said.
On Customs preparedness for the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA), Ali said: “Every aspect that concerns us have been adhered to. We need certain inputs from AfCFTA secretariat, like the aspect of rules of origin. It should not be left to chambers of commerce alone and Customs should be members of the team. But we are ready”, he said.
The Customs boss also said that the N1.5 trillion generated last year was a pleasant surprise, even as he hailed his officers and men for working so hard to generate such an amount, despite being in a pandemic.
“To generate more revenue, we’re leveraging technology and getting e-Customs established. When completed, the entire Customs operations and administration will be automated. It’ll block leakages and grow our revenue.
“Within the next six months, NCS will have about seven functional scanners to be mounted at strategic entry points even before the full deployment of e-Customs components which will see to the deployment of 135 modern scanners. The NCS appreciates and commends the leadership of CBN for this strategic intervention in the interest of the nation.
“What we need from the public is cooperation and information,” he added.
The Customs boss noted that the COVID-19 pandemic became a pointer to the fact that the concept of coordinated border management can be better achieved through collaboration among relevant agencies, with technology as an enabler.
“To maintain the service revenue and anti-smuggling profile, the service advanced its use of technologies enabling most clearance activities to be done online. We, therefore, avoided all unnecessary human contacts thereby keeping the supply chain active.
In his goodwill message sent via email, the Secretary-General of the World Customs Organization (WCO), Dr Kunio Mikuriya reinforced the need for collaboration to drive the recovery process after the scathing effects of COVID-19.
He said: “The economic impact of the pandemic on companies has been colossal, with considerable disruption of global supply chains. The herculean task of reconstruction cannot be undertaken in isolation, and the expertise of all border agencies and stakeholders will be a decisive factor. Customs will be called upon to demonstrate its leadership during this process, at the national and international levels. The COVID-19 crisis has demonstrated that coordinated border management is possible, efficient, and can be further institutionalized at international and national levels”, he said.