There was palpable confusion at the Lagos Ports on Monday as the Nigerian Customs Service (NCS) began the implementation of the new Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) exchange rate of N326 per Dollar for Customs transactions, which hitherto stood at N306 per Dollar.
Findings by the Tribune Online on Monday showed that the NCS has already commenced implementation of the new exchange rate with immediate effect. Customs sources confirmed that the valuation department of Customs at all commands has equally adjusted the exchange rate on their electronic systems.
Speaking with newsmen, Public Relations Officer of the Association of Nigeria Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) at Tin Can Island Port, Mr. Emmanuel Onyeme also confirmed that all transactions and cargoes that were cleared at the port today (Monday) were already paying N326 per dollar.
Onyeme lamented that the new exchange rate would definitely add to the cost of clearing cargoes from Nigerian ports and the prices of goods in the market.
He argued that the policy should not have commenced with immediate effect because several agents have already accepted jobs from their importers using calculations based on the old rate of N306 per dollar.
He also lamented that the Customs did not carry the clearing agents and other stakeholders along in the implementation of its policies.
According to Onyeme, “The new rate took place at the ports today. It is already affecting our interaction with Customs.
“Before now, a vehicle that is paying a duty of N300,000, definitely with the current increment of the exchange rate by N20, the same Vehicle will pay more than N300,000.
“So, the new rate will affect the cost of clearing, especially for those who have collected jobs at the rate of N306.
“And if the importer is selling his car for N1 million, with this additional cost, he is going to add whatever that is the extra cost to it.
“The Customs have already changed the rate on the system. Every job that was captured today had to pay the new rate.”
Onyeme lamented that the inability of the freight forwarding associations in the maritime sector to speak with one voice has further emboldened the Nigeria Customs Service to treat them with levity.
“The Customs does not carry us along in their policy formulation because the associations are not speaking with one voice, there is a crack on the wall,” Onyeme added.