“VIN Is A Trade Tool, Not Punitive”-Customs
“The Issues will Be Looked Into and resolved”-ACG Aremu
Towards resolving the lingering issues in the Vehicle Identification Number, VIN, the Nigeria Customs Service, NCS, has convened a stakeholders meeting with freight forwarders, importers and clearing agents within the Lagos metropolis to allow the agents and their partners voice their grievances and frustrations in the recently introduced VIN regime.
Since last week, the ports in Lagos have been grounded by protesting clearing agents who claimed that the VIN will cripple their businesses and send them to their villages if allowed to run as introduced by NSC.
The protesting clearing agents claim that clearing charges have gone up from N400,000 to N1.7m at the meeting convened by Customs which held at the Customs Training College Ikeja, Lagos, call for the cancellation of the VIN policy and return to status quo.
Comptroller General of the Nigeria Customs service Col Ibrahim Ali (rtd) was represented at the meeting by the Zonal Coordinator of Zone A, ACG Modupe Aremu (Mrs).
The CG’s delegation also had the Assistant Comptroller General in Charge of ICT and Modernization, Aliyu Galadima Saidu and he ACG ICT and Mobilization, ACG Danladi Saidu
Addressing issues raised by the agents, the ACG Zone A told the agents to be patients as their grievances were being looked into.
ACG Aremu described Customs and it’s licensed agents as members of one big family and assured the agents that solutions to the issues raised will be resolved soon,
In her words, “We are going to modify their complaints going forward. The modification will take care of the complaints of the clearing agents as regards VIN. Those we can resolve here we will resolve, other critical areas we cannot take a position on here we will take back to the headquarters for consideration.
“The agents were actually trained ahead of the implementation of the VIN valuation. That was why we were not expecting this kind of response from them when we began the implementation.
“Due to the complaints are raising, we are going back to the drawing board to modify all the issues that they raised. Very soon we will get back to them on the outcome of the modification. VIN has come to stay, it cannot be suspended.”
“We all know that import valuation of vehicles is not a question of convenience or sentiments. It is part of the international trade, what is happening is that NCS has embraced the modernization of customs trade tools”
The Customs Chiefs stated unequivocally that rather than run clearing agents out of business the VIN trade tool is intended to maximize profit for the agents, enable them retain their staff and even employ more workers.
They explained that the process leading to the adoption of the VIN was thoroughly looked into, evaluated and seen as compliant with global best practices and in tune with the World Customs Organization principals just as outlined by other global trade bodies prior to implementation.
In his intervention, the ACG Trade and Tariff, ACG Hamza Gumi said the new policy is about trade modernization and trade facilitation which will not be allowed to run on sentiments but clear economic dynamics consistent with international trade.
According to him “We are in this together, you have been told to be patient. We have listened to your complaints, we are trying to resolve those we can resolve here, other critical areas we cannot take a position on here we will take back to the headquarters for consideration/resolution.
“But we all know that import valuation of vehicles is not a question of convenience or sentiments. It is part of the international trade, what is happening is that NCS has embraced the modernization of customs trade tools.
“By the deployment of this VIN, negotiated value is gone. We can no longer negotiate, this is a policy decision and it’s not up to you. This policy is based on universal valuation and not dictated by anyone”.
While there was no concrete agreement on the way forward at the meeting, decision reached by Customs management on the VIN impasses is likely to determine what happens in next few days.