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Customs Decries Dodgy Transaction Invoices Of Importers

South West Accounts For 80 Percent of Customs Annual Revenue

The Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) has called out importers who manipulate transaction invoices in an effort to circumvent the payment of duty.

Detailing the Customs’ stance on matters, the Deputy National Public Relations Officer of the NCS, Timi Bomodi, in a social media post, said, “The NCS Valuation Unit under the Tariff & Trade Department has recently come under fire for lending itself to the consistent and correct interpretation and application of this agreement.

“Some unpatriotic individuals, engaged in the importation and clearing of goods who, being poorly informed about the application of these valuation methods have attempted to portray the Customs in a bad light, by claiming that the Valuation unit adopts non-methodical and arbitrary means to arrive at values for Customs purposes. Nothing could be further from the truth.

“This assertion is bogus and untenable when examined through the prism of current global realities. When we look at data from the past 3 years and focus particularly on the last 2, we are confronted with massive schisms in the global supply chain occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Manufacturers in developed countries have had to cut down on production because of the difficulties experienced in moving parts and components across international borders. Except for medical equipment and supplies, most other goods have witnessed a decline in production.

“This situation has created a scarcity of basic goods and services in most countries, thereby creating upward price swings.

“A classic example is the US auto industry that has seen steady increases in the prices of new and used vehicles as a result of interruptions in the global supply chain.

“Inspite of these obvious trends, the Nigeria Customs Service Valuation unit has in recent times been inundated with questionable requests for the acceptance of fictitious transaction values which bear no resemblances to global realities.

“Some unscrupulous importers and their agents have resorted to concocting values suitable only for their selfish ends, and solely for the purpose of evading the payment of appropriate Customs duty.

“To be sure, the value for Customs duty is based on three components. One is the transaction value of the goods in question, also known as the Cost, second is the value or cost of freight, and thirdly the value of insurance for the goods in transit. All three are captured as the CIF value and forms the tax base for assessing duty.

“Whenever anyone or all three of these components goes up, it automatically creates a domino effect seen in increased assessed values and duties across the board.”

He added that the quote for assessments and duty payable would see an uptick in tandem with the fluctuating exchange rate, noting that “adjustments” made the service’s Valuation officers should not come as a surprise amid the “current global realities.

He said, “Since value assessments are based on the currencies of exchange when calculating duty payable on imports, we are compelled to also factor in the exchange rate.

“Even when the cost, insurance and freight values remain unchanged over time, the fact that the exchange rate varies, implies that there must be a commensurate increase in assessments and duty payable.

“The Nigeria Customs has in its database a comprehensive list of import transactions that have taken place over the years. The historical data of all importers and imports in our possession lend themselves to critical analysis for Customs valuation and other purposes.

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“Using recent aggregates of this data, we have been able to identify inconsistencies in values for the same, identical or similar goods imported by the same importers from the same countries of origin.

“We are aware that certain individuals and organisations deliberately make false attestations on their invoices and other final documents with the aim of evading the payment of duty and then turn around to blackmail the Service for querying their declarations.

“Like other attempts before it, this also will fail. The Nigeria Customs Service is bent on checkmating all attempts at duty evasion, and it is resolved in doing this in line with the principles outlined in international treaties and agreements.

“Since we all are in agreement as to the negative effect of the pandemic on global supply chain, and its effect on cost, insurance and freight, we should then not be surprised by adjustments made by Customs Valuation officers reflecting our current global realities.

“Therefore, anyone inputting ulterior motives to the actions of Valuation officers, should themselves be viewed with suspicion.

“At a time like this when every kobo counts in helping the government actualize its development objectives, no one should feel justified to, under the guise of industry watchdogs, monitoring or consumer protection deprive the federal government of its dues in terms of payment of correct Customs duty.”

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Kindness Udoh is a writer and media enthusiast with vast experience in journalism, copywriting, and features across beats. He also has professional certifications in creative writing. You can reach him via [email protected]

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