Importers to lose N409bn annually over Customs fast-track withdrawal

Importers in Nigeria are set to lose about N409 billion annually to port storage charges following a decision by the Nigerian Customs Service (NCS) to end its fast track cargo clearance offerings to benefitting parties.

The fast track window, otherwise called Blue Lane in Customs parlance, allows importers to carry their cargoes straightaway from the ports to their warehouses (without any form of delay) where customs processes such as examination and payment of duties are carried out instead of doing so in the ports. The system allows the importers to save port storage charges since port concessionaires charge an average of N4, 000 per container daily for storage charges.

According to an impeccable source in the Apapa Customs Command, “a little above 40,000 containers and other cargoes are cleared daily under the fast track window. This amounts to over N160 million savings in storage charges per day and N1.12 billion for the average seven days cargo dwell time in the ports. The figure rises to over N409billion savings by importers who enjoy the fast track clearance system per annum.

“With the decision by the CG to end Customs fast track clearance offerings to benefitting importers, they (importers) are set to lose because what they usually save annually will now be spent on cargo storage procedures in the ports.”

It would be recalled that the Comptroller-General of Customs, Colonel Hameed Ali (rtd), had said over the weekend in Lagos that importers were abusing the fast track privileges given to them and that the service is set to stop the fast track window.

An importer, DIE HOPES had abused the fast track window by falsely declaring 16 containers containing new tyres as paper boards and machine parts The containers which were supposed to exit the port without examination since they are on fast track were stopped upon discovery through intelligence that the importer made a wrong declaration deliberately to evade payment of complete duty for the importation.

According to the Customs boss, the discovery yielded a total of N116.28 million into the Customs coffers;  a development that dents the integrity of the beneficiaries (importers) enjoying the fast track option, and would cause the Customs to consider effecting 100 per cent physical examination on such importers cargoes at the seaport.

Tyres imported into Nigeria attract a total duty and levy rates of 70 per cent, while paper board and machine parts attracts a duty rate of about five per cent without levy.