Comptroller-General of Customs, Inde Dikko Abdullahi
By Francis Ugwoke
There is a growing apprehension among importers and their freight forwarders that the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) is planning to introduce ‘Duty Benchmark’ on certain categories of imported goods.
Although, the details are yet to be made public, the idea is to discourage importers and their freight forwarders from engaging in the crime of goods under-declaration or concealment which many importers commit in a bid to evade payment of correct duties.
It was gathered that with the duty benchmark, importers will be compelled to pay uniform duty on certain categories of goods despite the quantity declared by each importer.
But in a swift reaction, the National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF) has condemned the plan, and advised the Customs not to kill a fly with a sledge hammer.
In a statement signed by the Public Relations Officer of NAGAFF, Mr Simeon Nwonu, NAGAFF said that this plan may be targeted at ensuring that the Customs realizes the N1trillion revenue target it had set.
“Much as we don’t begrudge the Customs management in efforts they deem fit to shore up their revenue base, especially in view of the One Trillion Naira (N1 trillion) revenue target given to them by the Federal Government, we are calling on the Nigeria Customs to tread cautiously as they embark on this task.
“NAGAFF is advising the Customs not to kill a fly with a sledge hammer but rather go systemically and in partnership with stakeholders in the industry, to ensure seamless realization of their target”, Nwonu said.
The association called on the management of Customs to embark on massive enlightenment campaigns to educate the traders on the operations of the bench-marking of imports, “which we believe is aimed at encouraging traders and agents to make genuine declaration to Customs”.
The association called on members to keep away from import malpractices, and instead join in the efforts by the Customs Service to enhance its revenue target by continuing to make genuine and honest declaration for Customs purposes.
NAGAFF reminded members of the risk of loosing their goods if they engage in under-declaration or concealment.