THE Comptroller General of Nigeria Customs Service, Col Hameed Ali, has accused Area Controllers of the various commands of the service of colluding with importers and their allies in undervaluing their cargoes
In a recent circular issued by the Customs headquarters and endorsed by the Deputy Comptroller General Tariff and Trade, Isa Talatu, the Customs said it had uncovered misapplication and undervaluation of high duty cargoes for the purpose if duty evasion in most of the area commands.
National Light however learned that the Customs hierarchy was equally disturbed with the bench marking of cargoes as being practiced in certain commands, maintaining that high profile cargoes are declaring low duty under the guise of benchmark.
The command’s new benchmark system imposes N600,000 as the minimum Customs import duty on a 20ft container and N1.2 million on a 40ft container irrespective of the value of the cargo in the container.
Sources at the command alleged that cargoes are not thoroughly examined at the command after they have been benchmarked.
Apparently disturbed by the trend, Alli, through the DCG Tariff and Trade in the circular titled “T&T/2019 circular No 10. Re: Misapplication and Undervaluation of Cargoes” warned that any officer caught in the act would be severely dealt with.
The circular exclusively obtained by our correspondent reads
“I am directed to refer to the above subject matter. Intelligence had confirmed the misapplication of classification and under valuation of high duty cargoes for the purpose of duty and levy evasion in most Area Commands”
“This act has the potential of impeding negatively on revenue generating efforts of the Service”
“In consequence, all CACs are requested to intensify and ensure 100% inspection of imports”
“Any officer found complicit or working at cross purpose would be sanctioned in accordance with the appropriate sections of the Public Service Regulations (PSR)”
One of the stakeholders who reacted to this development said that bench marking as being practiced by the Tin Can Customs Command is against the World Trade Organization (WTO) principles.
He said cargoes that were supposed to pay higher duties pay less because they are charged according to the benchmark, while those that are supposed to pay less are charged higher because they must meet up the benchmarked fee.