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Car dealers, Customs differ in solutions over land border vehicle imports ban

Since the December 31st deadline for cessation car imports via the land borders, a lot has happened in the sub sector.

First, there was large number of abandoned cars that were trapped across the borders on the expiration of the grace period.

Secondly, many of the importers are now crying over their billions of naira trapped in the process and are calling on the federal government to intervene by at least providing another window of grace for a limited time that will allow them clear the trapped vehicles which are trying down their money.

Part of their effort was a delegation to the National Assembly which may have encouraged the lawmakers to ask the government to rescind the ban.

However, it appears that government may not have bought the lawmakers’ idea as no directive had been given by the Nigerian Customs Services (NCS) suggesting another grace period in line with the position of the Senators.

In an interview Monday, the new image maker of the Services, Mr. Joesph Attah said “Customs is yet to be consulted of given any form of directive suggesting plea for the revocation of the ban order”.

Accordingly, he said the Service will continue to maintain orders on the ban by raising the level of surveillance along all the land borders.

He was smart enough to argue that the new policy through may be hard at this initial stage will go a long way in assuring the collection of exact duties on car imports as all cars will be coming from the seaports.

Attah posited that whereas duties were only paid on about 300,000 cars from land borders on a yearly basis, over two million cars find their ways vide land borders but without duties paid on them which according to him, means a revenue loss for the economy.

Already, several car dealers in Abuja have called on the Federal Government to reduce customs duties of imported cars and to formulate policies to encourage Nigerians to patronise locally assembled vehicles.

The dealers on Monday argued that the high customs duties and the high exchange rate of the naira had affected their businesses negatively.

The car dealers who spoke to our correspondent at Berger Car depot, mile 2, Lagos said they are not against collection of custom duties because we pay in Cotonou where we import cars from and we also pay heavily here.

Many of us were caught by the deadline and that is why we are crying onto the government to have a change of mind because if the policy last, Nigerians will be ready to buy the cheapest set of cars at over one million naira.

Apart from importers, other shipping staekhoders had joined in the crusade to change the mind of government on the ban policy.

One of the stakeholders’ is the National President, National Council of Managing Directors of Licensed Customs Agents (NCMDLCA), Lucky Amiwero who has urged the federal government to reconsider its policy banning importation of vehicles through the land borders.

While arguing that the ban order lacks some ingredient that will make a successful regime, he called on the government to extend the deadline for importers whose vehicles are currently trapped at the border posts pointing out that the notice given by government on the new policy is very short, as a lot of importers had placed orders before the directive was announced.

He said “The implementation should be properly looked into because it lacks some ingredient that will make a successful regime. The policy is a major decision but the time is very short. All the border posts are entry points so the government must give enough time if it wants to implement any policy. That is not how it is done internationally.

“They must extend the deadline because we are not in a military era. The cars cannot just remain there, they are Nigeria’s assets. These vehicles are not smuggled but were imported legally as authorised by the government under the federal government import regime, which import duty is assessed and paid into federal government account legally. So they should be made to pay duty and clear these vehicles.

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