Vehicle importation down by 45% over forex crisis – CGC

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The Comptroller General of the Nigeria Customs Service, Adewale Adeniyi, has disclosed that vehicle importation dropped by 45 per cent in the first quarter of 2024, due to foreign exchange challenges in the country.

Adeniyi, who stated that during a recent interview with Arise Television, said that period was very critical for Nigerians and businesses in general because of the volatility in the exchange rates.

“It affected car dealers. We had as much as a 45 per cent decrease in the volume of cars that were brought into Nigeria in that period.

“And they were not the kind of cars that fetched optimum revenue for the customs. Not only cars, but even regular imports were also affected because people could no longer import raw materials as they wanted and the volatility did not allow them to plan for tomorrow,” the CGC stated.

He was optimistic that things had started picking up in the second quarter of the year, saying,

“But we see some relative degree of stability in the second quarter because there are lots of discussions going on. Some at the level of the National Assembly, most of them spearheaded by the Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister of the Economy, bring on the stakeholders that are involved together, to ensure that we achieve stability.”

Giving an update on the private jet owners’ verification exercise, Adeniyi said that a good number of private jet owners had started leaving Nigeria since the verification announcement was made.

He stated that the jets leaving do not want to be verified.

He stated that since the exercise started some weeks ago, only a few owners had shown up.

“Very few of them have shown up for verification and we gathered from intelligence that a good number of them have been leaving Nigeria since the announcement was given because they would not want to be verified,” he asserted.

According to Adeniyi, when you bring in an aircraft and you register, the next thing would be for the owners to come to Nigeria Customs and account for the customs duty if the jet is going to be used in Nigeria.

The CGC explained that the service started a private jet owners’ verification exercise because more private jets were operating outside the ambits of the law.

“We have seen so many of these aircraft flying and our record tends to show that only a few of them have shown up to pay duty and this is why we are bringing this verification up,” he said.

The CGC disclosed that data obtained from the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority revealed that, though many private jets were operating in the country, only a few paid customs duty.

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Adeniyi explained that when the exercise started sometime in 2019, the service realised N2bn.

“Recall that this was not the first time we did it. We did something close to this in 2019 and the exercise fetched us as much as N2bn within the short time that we did it.

“We discovered that there were more private jets that were operating in Nigeria but had not been brought under the ambit of the law. So, the data that we got from the NCAA showed that only very few of them paid customs duty to operate in Nigeria,” Adeniyi stated.

According to the customs authority, private jets used in Nigeria are required to pay duty according to international aviation law.

“If they are here for a brief period in the Nigerian air space and go, they are not obliged to pay any duty. If they were here on a temporary importation visit but once they are here and used within Nigeria, they are liable to pay duty,”

The CGC reiterated that the verification exercise was to confirm those operating within the ambit of the law and those that were operating outside the law.

The customs helmsman stated that the hike in the price of fuel in neighbouring countries was a major incentive for smugglers.

“When you get open source intelligence, you discover that the prices of fuel in neighbouring countries create a lot of incentives for smuggling.

“In Benin Republic, a litre of fuel is between N1,500 and N1,600. In Cameroon, it is high as N2,000 per litre. So, when we have this kind of thing around our neighbours and we are still doing a litre between N710 and N720, there is already an incentive because the price difference is very wide,” he averred.

Adeniyi reiterated that the service was collaborating with relevant agencies to ensure that they monitored in real-time the trucking of products from their depots.

Adeniyi stated that the service was making a lot of efforts to address the welfare issues of their officials.

“In terms of remuneration, working conditions, adequate payment of houses when due, and even in terms of reviewing the basic salary of officers, efforts are in progress and I want to believe that by the third quarter of 2024, we will make some of these known to officers to serve as motivation for them,” he explained.

He noted that promoting officials would now be announced on the first day of every year.

“Promotion used to be very stagnant. But now, we are working with the customs board. We had an understanding that every year, on January 1, we are releasing the promotion of officers who are deserving. We have done it in January 2024 and we are hoping that by January 2025, the next batch of officers would benefit and they would be paid salaries commensurate with their new rank,” he declared.

Source: The Guardian

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