…wants customs to account for 7% duty it collects
Against the backdrop of calls in some quarters, that the Nigeria Customs Service should be given more funds to enable it meet up with its additional responsibilities, the Shippers Association of Lagos State has opposed the calls describing it as unreasonable.
The President of the association, Rev. Dr. Jonathan Nicol made this position known in an interview with Primetime Reporters in Lagos last week.
It will be recalled that the National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF) had in a Press release it issued recently called for an additional incentive for the service to meet up with their challenges.
NAGAFF in the release titled,” In the Matter of 1% CISS and he arrest of Containers within the City Highways by Standards Organization of Nigeria-Matters Arising”, stated that the Nigeria Customs Service rather than taking 7% of duty collected should ask for 5%-7% of the Free-On-Board (FOB) value of imports into Nigeria adding that the service should count on the association in this regard.
But in a swift reaction, Rev. Nicol wondered where that suggestion was coming from adding that when it comes to sympathy from the freight forwarders, the shippers should expect the freight forwarders to be sympathetic with them that with the Nigeria Customs Service since shippers and not the service provides the bulk of jobs that freight forwarders executes.
He further said that personal interests should not be brought to bear in matters like this since it was an internal affairs of the Nigeria Customs Service and the Supervising Ministry of since the service was a parastatal under the Federal Ministry of Finance and should not be the affairs of the freight forwarders or any other person for that matter.
According to him,” we are strongly suggesting to the government that if the statutory allocation is not enough for the Nigeria Customs Service, what about the 7% incentive that is unique? Shippers expended #28.6 million between January and November 2013. You now multiply that by 7, that is what the Nigeria Customs Service has collected”.
“It is not a gift to the Nigeria Customs Service, if it is a gift, then let us know. It is a public fund, they should account for the 7%. If it to better the lives of the officers, then I don’t see why they should be asking for extra funding. We look at it as over bearing on the Nigerian economy for one government parastatal”.
The Shippers’ Association of Lagos’ boss reminded the advocate of more funds for the service that customs was not the only government agency that collect revenue for the government and that if other agencies that collect revenue for the government like the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) and the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), should demand for more funds, one could imagine the impact that would have on the economy.
He therefore suggested that the Nigeria Customs Service funds should be critically looked into especially as it affects its monthly subvention to enable it pay its staff salaries but not for them to unilaterally begin to jerk up salaries outside the civil service norm as if they were independent.
“It is something they can dialogue with the Minister of Finance and the Minister will bring it forward to the Federal Executive Council for an increase in their monthly subvention. We oppose the situation where you now take 5% or 7% of FOB, for what? Whom are they compromising?”
“It is our view that the Nigerian government should provide infrastructure on ground before you call the Nigeria Customs Service to come and do their job. All those things have to be in place. It is not the duty of the Nigeria Customs Service to buy scanners; it is the duty of the Federal government”.
“Maintenance and so on should be under the Ministry of Finance or you can even ask the Nigerian Ports Authority to provide that equipment because that is under their purview. So, they should be able to maintain the entire infrastructure because we don’t see where they are placing their funds”, Rev. Nicol said.