By Godfrey Bivbere, Eguono Odjegba & Ebuka Oko
DESPITE hindrances to trade, harsh economic situation, the chaotic traffic situation and broken road infrastructure around Apapa, Lagos, the country’s main port of entry, five Commands of the Nigeria Customs Service, NCS, recorded 18 per cent increase in import duties collection in the first half of 2019, H1’19.
The Commands, Apapa Area 1 Command, Tin-can Island Command, Muritala Muhammed Airport, MMA, Command and Ogun State Area Command, raked in a total of N418.3 billion during the period as against N354.5 collected in the corresponding period of last year.
A report released by Apapa Area Command indicated that a total of N203 billion was collected in the first six months of 2019 as against N176.7 billion collected in the corresponding period of 2018.
The Tin-can Island Customs Command collected a total of N179.2 billion during the same period, up from N172.5 billion realised in the corresponding period in 2018 which shows a growth of 3.3 per cent.
The MMA raked in N29.1 billion H1’19 as against the N22.7 billion it recorded in the same period of 2018, while the Ogun State Area Command raked in a total of N6.7 billion revenue in H1’19 as against the N2.6 billion made in the corresponding period of 2018.
Commenting on the figures, the Executive Secretary of the Nigerian Shippers Council, NSC, Hassan Bello, told Vanguard Maritime Report that the Nigerian market is huge and will continue to attract business.
Bello noted that the nation has been able to attract more landlocked cargo from the nation’s neighbours. He also pointed out that available report states that there has been steady growth in the cargo throughput at the ports over the past three to four years.
He stressed that when all these are considered, the increase in revenue collection by the Customs should not come as a surprise to anyone.
However, the National President of the Association of Nigeria Licensed Customs Agents, Tony Iju Nwabunike, told Vanguard Maritime Report that the increase in revenue collection by the Commands is not a surprise as Nigeria has the highest duty rates in the world.
He also complained about the multiple checks by the different units of Customs at the Command level which makes the process of clearing goods in the nation’s ports the most cumbersome in the world.
He stated: “What you need to know is that Customs collects revenue but we freight forwarders and Customs brokers pay the duties to the designated banks.
“Customs make time to know if we paid the duty or not but the question now is; how do they make such money even when the roads are bad, even when the people are lamenting that the economy is bad. It is simple, there are too many tariffs in the Nigerian bound goods, too many duty payments; and most importantly, the tariff charge where Nigeria has the highest rate that’s why somebody can import from Cotonou and in bringing it here it will still be cheaper.
“High tariff is the cause of the whole thing not because businesses are booming, not because people are trying to make a turnover. If you go and check the turnover of the containers you will see that Nigeria has not imported as much as they did in the last two years. It is just like every average Nigerian is suffering from multiple taxations in too many things and the services they don’t get,” he noted.