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Customs Seize Vehicles Worth N7.75bn in Two Years

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  • Customs Seize Vehicles Worth N7.75bn in Two Years

A total of 3,190 vehicles were seized by the Nigeria Customs Services in 2015 and 2016 as part of its anti-smuggling activities, figures obtained from the agency showed.

The 3,190 vehicles for the two-year period, according to the NCS, have a total duty paid value of N7.75bn

The figures are contained in a report prepared by the Enforcement, Investigation and Inspection Department of the NCS for the 2015 and 2016 fiscal periods.

An analysis of the report showed that 1,724 vehicles with duty paid value of N3.95bn were impounded in 2015.

In 2016, the service, according to the report, recorded 1,466 vehicle seizures with duty paid value of N3.79bn.

The NCS had in recent times taken steps to check the high level of smuggled vehicles coming into the country.

The development made the agency to come up with the controversial policy on the payment of import duty on old vehicles.

The NCS later suspended the implementation of the policy following an earlier directive by the Senate that the policy, which had generated controversies, be suspended.

The Public Relations Officer, NCS, Mr. Joseph Attah, stated that the suspension of the policy would remain until the agency gets the support of the lawmakers in implementing it.

He said the agency would continue to step up efforts in ensuring that the rate of smuggling was reduced to the barest minimum.

Attah stated, “When a vehicle is intercepted by the Customs and the vehicle has no Customs duty, of course, it will be taken to the station and detained. There are times when you meet somebody and he tells you he is not in possession of documents or he claims that he paid and cannot produce the evidence; such a vehicle is detained pending the production of the valid Customs document.

“But in a case where he does not produce a valid document neither is he willing to come and pay, because as it is now, the Customs is even kind of bending backwards, and when such vehicles are intercepted, we are not too quick about seizure. If it is proven properly that the vehicle is your own and you can pay the duty, it’s left for you to go.

“But a smuggled vehicle that a smuggler has no intention to pay on is subject to seizure, because the law said it should be seized.”

In a similar development, the NCS said it had concluded arrangement to auction seized goods online.

According to the agency, this will be done through a new e-auction portal set up for disposing of seizures that have undergone the process of court condemnation.

Attah, who disclosed this recently, said that only taxpayers with the Federal Inland Revenue Service issued Tax Identification Number would be eligible to participate in the auction, adding that Customs officers and their family members were excluded from the auction.

According to Attah, the portal, www.trade.gov.ng, requires applicants to input recent passport photographs with the payment of a non-refundable administrative fee of N1,000.

The guidelines also indicate that auctioned items cannot be replaced or funds paid refunded to bidders.

Attah said the auction would take place all over the country, adding that it was aimed at enhancing transparency, reducing human contacts and congestion in the various government warehouses, and increase revenue from the sales.

Successful bidders are expected to make payments within five working days as winners who fail to pay within the period will forfeit the auctioned items to the second highest bidders.

Successful bidders will be given a period 14 days from the date of payment to remove the items from the Customs warehouses or forfeit them at expiration of the period.

Any auctioned item not removed from the warehouse within 14 days from the date of payment, according to Attah, shall revert to its pre-bidding status, which makes it open for sale again.

Winners in the auction process are expected to pay 25 per cent of the auction amount to the terminal operator, and another 25 per cent of the auction amount to the shipping line operator.

Owners of seized items are excluded from bidding for them but may, however, participate in the bidding for other items; while owners of overtime items with evidence of payment of duty and other charges have priority over successful bidders for the items provided they have not been exited out of the Customs control.

Interested persons will be expected to access what is put for sale through the NCS trade portal to bid and the system will trigger victory to the highest bidder.

Hitherto, the service had conducted auctions through issuance of documents to beneficiaries with which they approached the warehouses before making payments to designated banks.

This method was viewed as not being transparent as beneficiaries of the auctions were believed to have been selected through a non-competitive process.

The new policy is coming 19 months after the Customs auctions were suspended following the voluntary retirement of the former Comptroller-General of Customs, Dikko Abdullahi.

Seized goods amounting to billions of naira that have been condemned through court processes are reportedly lying in the warehouses.

Attah said the Comptroller-General of Customs, Col. Hameed Ali (retd), took time to entrench the new method that required deployment of Information and Communication Technology to reduce human contact and influences.

According to him, the new system is undergoing a test run for applicant acceptability before it is open to the public for access and transactions.

CEO/Founder Investors King Ltd, a foreign exchange research analyst, contributing author on New York-based Talk Markets and Investing.com, with over a decade experience in the global financial markets.

Economy

Electricity Consumers, Hoteliers, Others Kick Against Petrol Price, Power Tariff Hikes

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Groups Kick Against Increase in Petrol Price, Power Tariff

The Network for Electricity Consumers Advocacy of Nigeria, the Nigerian Hotels Association, the Federation of Tourism Associations of Nigeria, Hotel Owners Forum, Abuja, and Power Up Nigeria have all kicked against the recent increases in power tariff and petrol price.

In a joint press conference held in Abuja on Friday, the groups rejected the increase and demanded an urgent reversal, saying the economic hardship imposed on Nigerians and businesses in the country by the COVID-19 pandemic would worsen if the increases in electricity tariff and petrol remains.

The speech jointly signed by presidents of NHA, FTAN, HOFA, Power Up Nigeria and read by the NECAN Secretary, Uket Obonga, the groups said it was sad that the Federal Government had chosen to compound the suffering of the Nigerian people at a time when the rest of the world are making efforts to ease the impacts of COVID-19 on their citizens.

They said, “It is sad to note that while other nations are enacting policies and taking measures to cushion the hardship imposed on their citizens by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Federal Government has chosen to place an unpardonable burden on Nigerians.

“This burden is not only the electricity tariff increase but also the hike in the pump price of petrol at a time that the people are suffocating under a distressed economy.”

They added, “It is very unfortunate that the Federal Government could allow itself to be misled into believing that tariff increase is the silver bullet that will shoot the sector revenues to Eldorado.”

The groups further stated that the cause of weak revenue in the power sector had not been addressed, neither is the nation’s low internally generated revenue addressed.

According to the groups, this was not the first time power distributors companies were pushing for a tariff increase, but the past Multi Year Tariff Order reviews that ended up increasing the price of electricity did not yield the desired result.

They said, “Recall that as soon as the MYTO 2015 order came into effect on February 1, 2016, the power distribution companies began another quest for further increase.

“They flagrantly disregarded the provisions of the MYTO path and energy charges contained therein, as the Discos went ahead to choose which tariff rate to use in determining bills given to the customers.

The groups argued that the incessant request for tariff increase had become a hypothetical exercise rather than the solution to the sector’s revenue problem.

We, therefore, wish to state categorically that we reject the September 1, 2020 tariff increase as ordered by the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission,” they said.

They added, “We call on the Federal Government to rescind the increase because we note that there is nothing put on the ground to cushion the effect of the dual increase of the end user tariff and the pump price of petrol.”

Meanwhile, the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) has approved power distribution companies (DisCos) to start collecting 87.9 percent of the recently raised electricity tariff from consumers in the first half of 2021.

This was disclosed in the latest tariff review documents forwarded to the 11 power distribution companies in the country. Also, DisCos were approved to start collecting 100 percent of the new tariff from the second half of 2021.

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Economy

Nigeria’s Electricity Consumers to Start Paying Full Rates from H2 2020

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Electricity Consumers to Pay Full Rates from July 2021

The Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission has approved power distribution companies to collect an average of 87.9 percent of the recently raised electricity tariff from consumers in the first half of 2021.

In the latest tariff review documents issued to the 11 power distribution companies, power distribution companies had been approved to collect 100 percent of the new tariff from July to December 2021.

The approved new collection rates for the Discos means that Nigeria’s electricity consumers would be required to pay higher tariffs starting from the second half of 2021.

This is coming despite Nigerians kicking against the increase implemented on September 1, 2020. Nigerians have declared the numerous increases by President Muhammadu Buhari as anti-people policy, saying the administration continues to compound the people’s burden despite COVID-19 negative impacts on them.

A few numbers of Nigerians have staged protests to compel the administration to revise increases on Value Added Tax, pump price and electricity tariff because of the ongoing economic uncertainties and weak macroeconomic data after the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) reported that the inflation rate rose above 13 percent, unemployment rate hits 27.1 percent and general plunged in economic activities and earnings of the Nigerian people.

However, the approval means DisCos will collect an average of 88 percent tariff in the first half of 2021 and up it to 100 percent in the second half of 2021 as contained in the NERC’s directive.

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Economy

Shipping Companies Lost 1,382 Containers to Bad Weather Yearly – Report

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World Shipping Council Says 1,382 Containers Lost Year

A recent report by the World Shipping Council has estimated that about 1,382 containers are lost at the sea yearly due to bad weather and other unforeseen circumstances.

In the report titled ‘Containers lost at sea – 2020 update’, the council attributed the disappearance of over 1,382 containers to severe weather, rough seas, ship groundings and structural failures as some of the problems which can result in containers being lost at sea.

The report said it used a survey-based system to calculate the losses made by shipping companies over a 12-year period.

It said, “Upon review of the results of the 12-year period (2008-2019) surveyed, the WSC estimates that there were on average a total of 1,382 containers lost at sea each year.

“With 12 years of data, it is particularly interesting to look at the trend of three-year averages, reported in each of the survey updates.

“In the first period (2008-2010), total losses averaged 675 per year and then quadrupled to an average of 2,683 per year in the next period (2011-2013).

“This was due in large part to the sinking of the MOL Comfort (2013) that resulted in a loss of 4,293 containers and further impacted by the grounding and loss of M/V Rena (2011) resulting in approximately 900 containers lost.

“Nevertheless, the next period (2014-2016) was marked by another vessel sinking with the tragic total loss of the SS El Faro (2015) with the loss of 33 crew members and 517 containers.

“Even with that, the three-year average annual loss for the period was 1,390, about half of the previous period. The downward trend continued into the most recent period (2017-2019) when the three-year average annual loss was almost halved again to 779.”

The WSC, therefore, encouraged governments and other stakeholders to improve container safety and reduce containers lost at sea.

This, it said could be achieved by making adjustments to the Safety of Life at Sea and revising the International Organisation for Standardisation standards for container lashing equipment and corner castings.

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