The Comptroller-General of Customs, Col Hameed Ali (retd.) has called on the Federal Government to reduce the 35 per cent levy on imported vehicles so as to check the rising cases of smuggled vehicles into the country.
Ali said this on Wednesday in Abuja at the unveiling of a Strategic Revenue Growth Initiative which was held at the Ministry of Finance.
He said already the Nigeria Customs Service had made a proposal to the Ministry of Finance on the need for a reduction in the 35 per cent levy on imported vehicles.
Ali said currently, any new vehicle imported into the country attracted an import duty of 35 per cent and an additional levy of 35 per cent.
This, he noted, brought the total duty payable on such a vehicle to about 70 per cent.
He described the 70 per cent being charged by the government as high, adding that time had come for it to be reduced.
In achieving this, he said, the government could still retain the 35 per cent import duty while the additional 35 per cent levy could be tinkered by bringing it downwards.
He said, “First, we must understand the fact that smuggling in most cases did not really occur because of the tariff that is placed on goods in Nigeria.
“When we talk about vehicles, yes, new vehicles attract 70 per cent duty; that is 35 per cent duty and 35 per cent levy but most of the vehicles that are being smuggled through our borders are not new vehicles, they are used vehicles.
“And the value is calculated based on the year of make and other attributes. So, the motivating factor that gets people to move these goods to our neighbouring countries is with the sole aim of smuggling them into Nigeria.
The 35 per cent is a baseline which is the duty, but the 35 per cent levy is what we think should be tinkered with.
“We should be able to reduce that to a level that it would be affordable. 70 per cent is on the high side, there is no doubt about that for new vehicles but we cannot touch the baseline of the tax regime.”
The Minister of Finance, Mrs Zainab Ahmed, who unveiled the Strategic Revenue Growth Initiative, said that the government was concerned about the inability of some of its agencies to meet their revenue target.