Controversial VIN regime may escalate to market shut down, says Ringo Okeke, President, Ndigboamaka Progressive Association
* 12,000 vehicles trapped at PTML
* 300 percent in import charges
* Efforts to reach Shippers Council rebuffed
Sylvanus Ekpo :
(Reporting for Financial Business)
An alliance of trade and market associations across the value chain in Lagos are set forth a market shut down over incessant and arbitrary import charges imposed on them by Nigeria Customs Service.
At a well-attended Press Conference, held at the Ndigboamaka Progressive Association, Amuwo Odofin, the President, Chief Ringo Okeke assisted by major market leaders across board, said that the Vehicle Indentification Number (VIN) valuation should be suspended immediately to allow for more robust consultation with stakeholders.
Chief Okeke stated that they have resolved to shut Aldine markets in Lagos state, if the inputs of critical stakeholders are not taken into consideration in formulating policy that would affect their businesses.
He noted that the VIN regime is an arbitrary creation intended to frustrate and penalise genuine traders and importers, arguing that Customs is duty-bound to serve the interests of importers and facilitate trade rather than embark on unconscionable revenue drive.
President Okeke disclosed that his members who are drawn from major markets in Lagos such as Alaba International Market, all markets in Trade Fair Complex, Ladipo Market and Coker Building Materials market are a major force in commerce and are seeking to enjoy the status of Organised Private Sector as key players in the nation’s economy.
He stressed that his members bring in about 60 per cent of the goods imported into the country with about 10 million Nigerians working directly and indirectly in various sectors.
The President lamented the harsh government policies and high interest rates on bank loans, which are crippling businesses of members and urged government to set up a fund to help cushion their financial pressures,for them to stay afloat in business.
“Together with Shippers Association of Lagos State, we shall manage a fund set up by Government to cushion our financial pressure in the future.
“The funds will be managed by key players in the Maritime Sector. No government agencies will interfere with it because of recorded failures.
We will do our best to protect the Shippers Association of Lagos State, the Freight Forwarders – over 1,500 of them working with us and other Organized Private Sector importers to form the Federation of Shippers Organisation of Nigeria”, he informed
Also speaking at the conference, the President of Shippers Association Lagos State, Rev. Jonathan Nicol disclosed that government had imposed about 300 per cent increase in import charges and this is having a negative impact on businesses and the economy.
He revealed that the discussions being held with Customs on VIN valuation had ended in a deadlock and that with 12,000 vehicles trapped at the PTML Command, demurrage and terminal charges had reached an all- time high of N600 million.
Rev Nicol urged government to accelerate the clearance of those trapped vehicles without attendant payment of the costs, since the problem created by policy somersault was not their making.
A major highlight of the meeting was the visit of the Executive Vice Chairman of Amuwo Odofin LGA, Hon. Mrs. Ashara Maureen Chika, who came to say “thank you” for the support the group gave to her during the campaigns.