By Onyinye Eze
The Tincan Island Port Command of the Nigeria Customs Service has denied allegation of imposition of N1.2 million and N600,000 import duty benchmark on 40ft and 20ft containers respectively, leveled against it by some clearing agents.
The Public Relation Officer of the command, Mr Uche Ejesieme, while speaking with Business and Maritime West Africa, stated that what people are referring as benchmark is actually a misapplication of concept and a clear deviation from the Command's intent and purpose.
He stated that the command have never contemplated on using benchmark system to determine import duty payable on any of the items.
The said estimate is not a 'Benchmark' but a Standard Operating Procedure(SOP) which the Customs Area Controller (CAC), introduced to block revenues leakages.
His words,"Our standard Operating Procedure(SOP) has been enhanced to the extent that the emphasis of the CAC is actually on due diligence and compliance.
"We are not saying that every 20foot container should pay N600,000 and every 40foot container should pay N1.2 million. The content determines what to pay. The nature of cargo determine the the amount to be paid.
"Some 20foot container can pay up to 20million depending on the consignment. There are also some 20foot container that even pay up to N40million depending on the cargo. We are not Benchmarking anything, it's an SOP but people are misunderstanding it.
"If your consignment is suppose to pay N300,000 or N400,000, you pay it. If you are suppose to pay N600,000, you pay it. Moreover, rates of duties ranges from 0 percent, 5percent, 10percent, 20percent and to 30percent, so all products can't be the same.
"Everything we are doing is just to make sure that the actual thing are done, to make sure revenue leakages are actually controlled to minimal, but surprisingly, everything is being given a different connotation which is different from our aim and objective.
"We are still insisting that Tincan Island Port Command is a very friendly port and we are still living by that." Tincan PRO affirmed