New Auto Policy: MWUN set to battle government, as former PTML Customs boss makes case for policy

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The Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria (MWUN) recently joined the call on the federal government to rescind its decision on the new automotive policy which it has since started implementing through the Nigeria Customs Service.

The President General of the Union, Comrade Tony Nted who was speaking in an interview with journalists in Lagos said that it would not allow the sudden implementation of the new tariff on imported vehicles by the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) to see the light of the day.

Recall that the duty rate of thirty-five percent without the levy component was introduced by the Nigeria Customs Service on the 5th of this months which the agents after series of protests and strike action has since started paying.

Nted, however said that as long as the local automotive industry was yet to come on board,the union would resist the implementation of the new auto Policy.

He expressed his displeasure that despite the public outcry and efforts by maritime stakeholders to get the government rescind its unpopular rice and vehicle tariff policies, the Nigeria Customs commenced implementation of the increased tariff on imported vehicles even before the 1st July deadline.

“We heard that the implementation is going to take place by July but we heard that Customs has started the implementation. I don’t know how it works. We will find out if that is true, the Maritime Workers Union will do everything we can to resist that policy. The best thing we do to draw the attention of the government to these policies that are inimical to the existence of the Nigerian people is for us to call our workers out of service after every option has failed,” Nted said.

The MWUN boss said that true to his prediction, 2014 has so far been a very difficult year for the maritime industry noting that “if only government will change some of these policies at the end of the year, we will begin to smile to get into the 2015.”

He said that the enactment of obnoxious policies by the Federal Government was a major source of concern for his union saying that during the meeting the menace of petroleum tankers on the Apapa/Oshodi Express road and on port access roads was also discussed.

Nted had said in his speech during the meeting that petroleum tankers’ dominance of port access roads have “compromised the efficiency and service delivery level of our ports and inflicted an avoidable loss of man-hour on the maritime industry and the economy in general.”

He blamed the existence of tank farms around the seaports in Lagos for the uncontrollable presence of tankers on roads leading to the ports even as he demanded for the immediate removal of the tank farms from the port environment.

“We have repeatedly called for the relocation of the tank farms from Tin Can and Apapa for safety of lives and properties and economic reasons. Although the government has earlier promised to relocate these tank farms from their present sites, we are surprised that they have not done so yet. For us the time for the relocation is now,” Nted stated.

Meanwhile, the immediate past Customs Area Controller (CAC), PTML Area Command of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Comptroller Tunji Aremu, has called on the vehicle dealers and importers not to divert their cargoes to Cotonou Port in a bid to evade the 35 per cent duty payment on imported used vehicles.

Aremu who was speaking during  a brief handover ceremony to his successor, Compt. Adegoke Folorunsho, at the command Wednesday, stated that with the new vehicle transit regime whereby all imported vehicles transiting through the land borders were handed over to personnel of the Nigeria Customs by the particular customs command the vehicles were imported from, smugglers or importers who wish to divert their vehicles through neighbouring countries would only attract more cost as they would be made to pay double duty.

He disclosed that with the policy in place, it would be cheaper to import cars directly to Nigeria instead of going through the ports of neighbouring countries.

“The vehicles will be escorted to the border both at Idiroko and Seme where you will pay the same thing your counterpart in Nigeria pays. It is cheaper to clear goods from Nigerian ports because it is economical and safer in as much you are presenting genuine declaration.

“It will be cheaper to import cars directly to Nigeria instead of going to neighbouring countries because before you get out of the neighbouring countries, you are going to pay them certain tax on the cars you are importing. So it is of no use running away. As the cars are leaving their port, they are being escorted and handed over to our officers so there is no escape route. Any route you try to pass, you will be caught and you will still pay the tax on the imported cargos,” Aremu said.

The out gone CAC further revealed that the command raked in N7.4 billion in April; and has collected N8 billion so far this month, a feat he said was unprecedented in the history of the command.

He therefore pleaded with the officers of the command to support the new controller to enable him succeed and surpassed the command’s revenue target.

On his part, the new PTML Area Controller, Folorunsho Adegoke, pledged to work hard even as he solicited the cooperation of officers and stakeholders of the command to enable him succeed in his new task.

Adegoke, who was formerly ASYCUDA Project Manager at the command, urged agents to be compliant in their customs documentation noting that compliant traders can get their PAAR document issued in two hours.

“Genuine importers spend less time in clearing cargoes out of the port. My experience in PAAR operation is that those compliant traders get their PAAR under three hours at times two hours because the system is there to access their records. Immediately they submit their documents from the bank, under two hours their PAAR is generated because the system has been programmed with details of each importer,” he said.

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