The 15 per cent National Automotive Council levy slammed on used imported vehicles by the Nigeria Customs Service has resulted in splitting clearing agents as a faction plans a strike action while another sues for dialogue.
Bizwatch recalls the NCS had recently introduced a 15 per cent NAC levy on used imported vehicles, a decision which wasn’t accepted by clearing agents in the country’s maritime sector.
The agents have argued that the NAC levy is mostly meant for new vehicles, questioning the rationale behind introducing the duty on used cars.
In a quick response, the service, in a statement by the National Public Relations Officer, Timi Bomodi, said the move complied with the Economic Community of West Africa Common External Tariff.
A factional task force Chairman, Tin-Can Island chapter of the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents, Rilwan Amuni, in a circular over the weekend, said all freight forwarders were going on a warning strike on Monday (today) against the NAC levy and the Customs benchmark on Pre Arrival Assessment Report.
The circular read, “Having consulted widely among the critical stakeholders as per this 15 per cent NAC and illegal benchmark on PAAR, it has been concluded that the 15 per cent NAC is a fraud and an obnoxious policy. In view of this, in conjunction with other stakeholders, there would be a one-day warning strike on Monday 25th of April by 10am prompt, starting from our ‘Holy Ground’ in front of Grimaldi and we will move down to Tin Can, en-route all other terminals in Tin Can and Apapa. After this, we believe the authorities concerned will reverse this illegal 15 per cent NAC and also review the benchmarks on PAAR within the next 48 hours. Failure to do this, all members should be ready to down tools and make sure we have a total shutdown at the ports.”
But giving an update on the strike later on Sunday, Amuni said that the association had postponed the planned strike action to next week after the Eid-el Fitri holiday.
“Before we decided to go on this warning strike, a lot of people had been carried along. However, there were pleas by our Muslim brothers that this week is the only week they have for Eid-el Fitri and Workers’ Day. Some of them pleaded we allow them to clear the backlog of jobs that are meant for this week, to enable them to plan for the long Eid-el Fitri holiday.
“After Sallah, we will start our demonstration fully. It is not a big deal to shelve strikes; after all, the Nigerian Labour Congress normally shelves its strikes.
“The only thing they (the govt) understand is force, and some of us are of that opinion. If they don’t lose revenue, they (the govt) will not listen to us. We are not happy going on strike; nobody would want to stop work, but if you don’t do, they will not listen to us.”
“Look at ASUU, because they don’t generate revenue, the government has failed to listen to them. But, on our part, if we down tools now and they can’t generate revenue, they will listen to us. During the last strike, they came from Abuja and listened to us and the whole thing was resolved.”
He predicted that there would be a massive drop in importation and loss of jobs by June due to the NAC levy.
“On or before June, you will notice that the activities at the ports will be reduced. The level of importation will drop drastically because if you are an importer, after bringing in goods, you will have to sell at a higher rate than you bought them. And mind you, this port is the second largest employer of labour. A whole lot of people will lose their jobs and it has started affecting everybody,” he said.
The Tin-Can Island Chapter Chairman of the Association of African Professional Freight Forwarders and Logistics, Godfrey Nwaosu, said, “Strike is the last option in making demands. My position as the Tin-Can Island chairman of APFFLON is that we should allow for dialogue for now. We don’t have any plans for a strike.”