CEM REPORT | The quagmire between Clearing Agent and the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) is another of Nigeria’s key sector clash which has left thousands of vehicles uncleared at the Lagos Port. This is as a result of the controversial 15 percent Common External Tariff (CET) Levy, which has received no attention from relevant authorities.
Clearing Agents have since threatened to shutdown activities at the Lagos Ports, lamenting NCS levy imposed as a means to meet the year’s revenue target.
CEM reported that NCS imposed a 15 percent National Automotive Council (NAC) levy on motor vehicles imported into the country which was received negatively by clearing agents.
To ease the tension NCS changed the NAC levy to 15 percent Common External Tariff (CET) levy.
Clearing Agents, who are crying in woe while calling the levy illegal have abandoned vehicles clearing, accumulating demurrage and rents, creating serious bottleneck to revenue collection and impediment to trade.
According to the Guardian the President, National Council of Managing Directors of Licensed Customs Agents (NCMDLCA), Lucky Amiwero, in a letter to President Mohammadu Buhari said, the CET levy is not backed by any law or the ECOWAS Trade Liberalization Levy (ETLS), stating that the CET levy is strange to Nigeria’s domestic law and the ECOWAS convention on import duties and levies.
“the imposition of common External Tariff (CET) levy of 15 per cent on Motor vehicles that is not backed by any law or approved in the Finance Act of 2020 and 2021 and not provided in any law of the land and assessed on motor vehicles by Nigeria Customs Service (NCS)”.
“There is no such thing as CET levy of 15 per cent either on motor vehicles or goods, the only approval is on ECOWAS trade liberalization levy (ETLS) of 0.5 per cent, the introduction of CET levy is strange to our domestic law and the ECOWAS convention on import duties and levies assessment and collection”.
“The shifting from NAC levy of 15 per cent to CET levy of 15per cent, by the Customs contravenes the principle of World Customs Organization WCO, Kyoto convention on the simplification and harmonization of Customs procedure, the World Trade Organization under the Agreement on Trade Facilitation Agreement (ATF) which core principle is predictability, consistency and transparency on trade information, fees and charges Imposed on in connection with importation and exportation, which create confusion and impediments,”
He further added that the non-clearing of vehicles at the seaports is as a result of the confusion on levy imposition by NCS.
“As a result of the confusion of the shift from NAC levy of 15 per cent to CET levy of 15 per cent without any backed legislation, many vehicles are now abandoned at the port, accumulating demurrage and rents, which creates serious bottleneck to revenue collection and impediment to trade, especially when is not covered under any domestic law, the only approval for levy for motor vehicles of 8703 cars is five per cent by the National Assembly and signed in to law by the president.
“We hereby wish the Federal Government to quickly save the trading community by intervention, so that the proper thing will be done and the port goes back to normalcy,” he said.
The Taskforce Chairman of Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) at Tin Can Island Port, Rilwan Amuni condemned the desperation with which the customs service is trying to generate revenue at all costs.
“When the customs found that we are shouting on them on the 15 per cent NAC, they have ran to change the nomenclature to CET Levy. We called some of our colleagues operating under ECOWAS, they told us there is nothing like CET Levy in their own column”
“If you compute the cost insurance and freight, the duty and the NAC, VAT, ETLS and seven per cent surcharge, you would find out that we are paying more now compared to when we pay 35 per cent duty, it amounts to double taxation” he said.