Following the protests that greeted the partial implementation of the new automotive policy by the Nigeria Customs Service, the Secretary, National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF), Hon. Increase Uche has described the protests as wrong step in the wrong direction.
Uche who was speaking in an exclusive interview with Primetime Reporters at his office in Lagos on Tuesday, also said that NAGAFF has called its members to order telling them that the association was not in support of those that were against the implementation of the government policy.
He disclosed that as intermediaries, Freight Forwarders and agents were professionally bound to comply with the government’s policies and regulations at the ports and not to oppose them.
The NAGAFF Scribe observed that he had expected thier principals, that is the importers for who the new policy directly affected to have reacted against the policy by now but instead, it was the Freight Forwarders that were leading the protests.
“For us in NAGAFF, we did not see it as a misnomer but we expected the importing public to be the ones reacting and not the freight forwarders since we are intermediaries and not the principals”.
“Professionally, we are bound to comply with the policies of the government in the ports. So, it was unfortunately that some of us started reacting negatively, trying to counter government moves to implement the 35 percent policy on automobiles”.
“What we did actually was to call our members to order telling them that we are not in support of those that are against the implementation of the policy rather let us toe the right path of not infringing on the government policy because we know that brokers even in the US are used to ensure compliance, they are the ones in the position to advise the importers on import regulations in the US”, he said.
He Further added that on the wake of the implementation, he had expected the car dealers at Berger Cement, Ikeja, Surulere and the Importers Association as well as Shippers’ Association of Nigeria to raise alarm over the issue which until now no one had heard anything from them.
Uche advised freight forwarders that had collected jobs from their clients before the latest development to return to their principals and brief them on the current situation adding that it was no in the place of the freight forwarders to start opposing the government policy and start reacting negatively by being destructive.
Speaking on why the customs could not wait for the July 1 commencement date, he said,”we initially opposed the new policy in its entirety but having heard the government’s position on the issue, we later asked that the policy be implemented in phases”.
“It did appear that what they are doing now is to start implementing it in phases because right now, they are only implementing the 35 percent duty without the levy component which I suspect may commence on July 1”.
The NAGAFF Chieftain also said that all the opposition about the new vehicle policy were unwarranted as according to him, all the investigations he carried out had shown that the revenue accruing to the federal government from the used vehicle revenue was not up to 17 percent of the total revenue generated annually arguing that even if the government should stop importation of the used vehicles in the country, it would not be loosing much.
He therefore called on the freight forwarders to channel their grievances towards those who had deceived the government into jerking up the duty rate from 20 to 35 percent and had gone ahead to continue importing new vehicles at 20 percent with a view to getting the government to level the duty rate for both the used and new vehicles for them to be at par.
“So forwarders don’t even know where to channel their grievances. If at all the government wants to implement the 35 percent duty rate on tokunbo vehicles, government should equally stop the importation of new vehicles at 20 percent and let us all rely on the vehicle that will be produced in Nigeria”, Uche said.