Hiccups in the vehicle valuation system of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) may hinder the importation of used cars just as thousands of sellers and agents are on the verge of losing their livelihoods, and investigations.
It was understood that the controversial electronic Vehicle Identity Number (VIN) valuation system, despite having undergone a survey, is being undermined, causing pain to importers who face obstacles in the process of clearing their vehicles.
Recollect that the Customs service introduced the VIN Valuation policy in January 2022 to aid business facilitation and strengthen the cargo delivery process. The platform was intended to lessen human intervention and make clearing more seamless.
This was welcomed with controversy as agents protested outrageous increases in rates due to inaccurate data and the valuation process.
Afterward, NCS suspended its implementation to survey the complaints, activating a backlog of vehicles anticipating clearing and extreme port congestion.
Two months after the policy was re-introduced, the old grievances remained. Customs had disclosed that the valuation template has been designed with the base model (2013) being used for the new pricing.
Findings disclosed that the reviewed VIN valuation policy is unjust, as it only works with standard chassis vehicles, while it excludes the non-standard chassis (damaged) vehicles.
However, vehicles from Europe and Asia have not been captured in the new valuation system, forcing importers to do under-table dealing with clearing officials, urging them to pay more than required.
According to clearing agents, once they apply for duty on such vehicles on the VIN system, it provides an error outcome, which means they have to apply to the Customs Area Controller (CAC) of the command for value identification.
Sources said such applications are filtered at discretionary costs with customs officials turning the process into a money-making enterprise.