Customs: Edun Gives Relief To Importers Of Vehicles  With Irregular  Papers At Port

By tephen Ubanna

Wale Edun, minister of Finance and Coordinating minister of the  Economy, who incidentally was the Commissioner for Economic Planning and Budget during Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s Administration as governor of Lagos state and now President  and Commander –In –Chief of the Nigerian Armed Forces,  appears to be working closely with Bashir Adewale Adeniyi, MFR,  led Nigeria  Customs Management Team to give a soft landing to  the vehicle importers to decongest the  nation’s seaports and stabilize the naira.

For much of last year and now, there have been pressure on the Authorities of the Federal ministry of Finance and the NCS, Management to review downward the cost of clearing imported vehicles at the nation’s seaports to make it competitive to what obtains in the Autonomous port of Benin, Cotonou, in Benin Republic and other ports in the West and Central African sub-regions.

Given the country’s Foreign Exchange crisis over the last seven months  and the and the duties on imported vehicles which had remained on the high side , thus making it impossible for many of such importers to take delivery of their vehicles at the ports, may have informed why Port Terminal Multi-services  Limited, PTML and Five Star Logistics terminal, in Tincan Island port, are littered with thousands of unclaimed fairly used vehicles, that were said to entered overtime cargoes, currently being auctioned by the service to the public.

PTML, Terminal

 Former minister of Finance, Hajia Zainab Ahmed, the then minister of Finance, under former President Muhammadu ‘s Administration and Hameed Ali, a retired Army Colonel and the immediate past  Customs Comptroller had turned a deaf ear to the cries of the vehicle importers at the ports .

Edun, the incumbent minister of Finance and Coordinating minister of the economy who is saddled with the responsibility of stabilizing the naira against the North American currency of the United States, US, dollars, appears to have taken the bold initiatives in the recent time to slash the naira to US dollar, which is the Foreign currency used in international transaction, for calculating the country’s duty on imports of vehicles and other Commodities into the country.

The Industry stakeholders are optimistic that as the NCS, Authorities, who were said to have started collecting the new rates at the nation’s seaports and Land border Areas, across the country, it will serve a big relief  to businesses and importers, particular , the vehicles importers, who had abandoned their vehicles at the ports.

Data   from the Federal government trading portal showed that  as of Saturday,  March 24, 2024,  importers,  will be charged  N1,448,386  to the US dollar  for payment of Customs duty. According to a top Customs official, the new exchange rate for calculating duty on imported vehicles and other Commodities represents a 7.89% reduction from the previous rate of N1, 572.507 to the US, dollar.

Many believe that the decision by the minister, who has the ear of President Tinubu, to slash the Customs duty rate was necessitated as the value of the vale of the Local currency to the US dollar, has continued to improve in both the Autonomous Foreign Exchange Market, AFEM, and the Parallel Foreign Exchange Market , popular, Black market in the recent time.

Goldman Sachs, a United Kingdom,  UK  based  Financial analyst and the country other  standard Chartered Firms,  have predicted  a new  exchange rate  of the naira to the US , dollar in the coming months, meaning that  the naira  will rebound  and close strong this 2024, an indications that the Nigerian minister of Finance , may be  encouraged to slash the country’s  Customs duty again, to further  give a breather to the importers.

Five Star Logistics Terminal

In spite of the fact that Edun, the Nigerian minister of Finance and Coordinating minister of the Economy had made a bold statement with the slashing of the Customs duty rate paid by vehicle and other Commodity importers, the minister appears to have gone a step further ‘’to suspend the 25% penalty    on improperly imported vehicles’’ to enable the importers take delivery of it to de-congest the nation’s seaports. Recall that the 25% imposed on vehicles import into the country by the previous Administration of the Katsina state born Nigerian President   was said to have been paid on the improperly imported vehicles.

Abdullahi Maiada, a Chief Super indent of Customs, CSC, and the service spokesperson had said that the minister was encouraged to take the bold initiative to give the vehicle importers a new window  ‘’to ease their  economic hardship  and further encourage them  to comply with the country’s Fiscal policy of doing the right thing.  

Appealing to stakeholders, particular, vehicle importers, with their agents, to take advantage of the provided with the government suspension of the 25% penalty on imported vehicles, to regularize their duty payments on such improperly imported vehicles.

Prior to the ministerial approval of the suspension of the 25% penalty on improperly imported vehicles into the country,   he was said to have’’ provided a 90-day window’’ for import duty Regularization on such improperly imported vehicles.   Given an insider information, CSC, Maiwada, had said that the initiative applies solely’’ to vehicles imported into Nigeria where the requisite Customs Duty has not been paid or vehicles detained due to undervaluation’’.

Already, the Customs Area Controllers at the Lagos Tincan Island port and PTML, which have vehicle terminals, including the Lagos Port of Apapa,  Onne and the Rivers port, , PortHarcourt,  which handles containerized vehicles are currently acting  out the script of the minister of Finance and Coordinating minister of the Economy on the new policy statement guarding importers with agents o taking  delivery of their vehicles at the ports.

As a prelude to taking delivery of such improperly imported vehicles rom the port without hassles, the Customs spokesperson, was said to have made clear to those that cares to listen that they must submit all the necessary available documents to the relevant Authorities to facilitate their exit from the port. The improperly vehicle importers are also expected to process Vreg in line with the ministerial directives for the registration of such vehicles with the Federal Road Safety Commission, FRSC.       

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