Senate Rejects Ban on Vehicle Importation Through Land Borders - EazyFeeds

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Thursday 12 January 2017

Senate Rejects Ban on Vehicle Importation Through Land Borders

The Senate has kicked against the Federal Government’s ban on the importation of ve­hicles through land borders - saying the policy would lead to a massive loss of jobs.

According to the Up­per House, 500,000 Nigeri­ans will lose their jobs if the government goes ahead with the ban on the importation of vehicles through the land borders.

The Senate urged the government to suspend the ban - and mandated its Committee on Customs to investigate the circumstanc­es which led to the sudden decision of the executive arm of government to ban the importation of vehicles through the land routes.

The resolutions of the Senate followed a motion by Senator Barau Jibril (Kano North) and co-sponsored by Senator Kabiru Gaya (Kano South); Senator Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi (Niger North); Senator Shehu Sani (Kadana Central) and Senator Ali Wakili (Bauchi South).
In his lead debate, Barau noted that the ban, which took effect on January 1, 2017, had led to the loss of about 500,000 jobs by the people engaged in the sector and other services in and around the border ar­eas in the country.
He expressed fears that the economy of border villag­es and towns that depend on the activities of vehicle import­ers would be adversely affected if the ban is not lifted.
The lawmaker noted that since the announcement came through the Nigeria Customs Service, Nigerians have spo­ken out against the policy, not­ing that it is not economically expedient to ban the impor­tation of vehicles through our land borders given the ramifi­cation of such a policy on the economy.
Senator Sam Egwu (Eb­onyi North) noted that the present administration had been turning out unpopu­lar policies since it came into power.
He challenged the rul­ing All Progressives Congress (APC) government to put on its thinking cap and stop mak­ing policies that are anti-peo­ple.
The motion enjoyed the support of majority of the Sen­ators present at the plenary.
However, despite the Sen­ate’s rejection of the policy, the Nigeria Customs Service has affirmed its determination to implement the policy fully un­til the Federal Government di­rects otherwise.
The Comptroller-General of the NCS, Col. Hameed Ali (rtd), has directed the officers and men of the agency to en­force the policy fully.
Ali directed operatives of the Headquarters Compliance Team and Federal Operations Units to complement the res­ident officers at land borders to beef up security and enforce the ban.
He said apart from being a statutory function of NCS to implement government’s fiscal policies, as Nigerians, the ad­vantages and opportunities in­herent in the policy are a mo­tivation to ensure compliance.
Asked if the NCS would comply with the Senate’s direc­tive, the NCS Acting Spokes­man, Mr. Joseph Attah, told The AUTHORITY that: “It is the statutory function of NCS to implement government’s policy. Anytime the policy changes, you can be sure the Service will fall in line with the change.”
In a statement signed by Attah, Ali charged the anti-smuggling squads of the NCS to ensure total blockage so that “no desperate importer gets his or her way to smuggle in trapped vehicles.”
“Regrettably, despite Nige­ria’s bigger and more equipped port facilities, statistics have shown that more than 90% of vehicles imported to neigh­bouring countries are nor­mally on transit to the Nige­rian market.
“Although duty rates chargeable for motor vehicles at both land borders and sea­ports remain the same, im­porters of these vehicles ex­ploit the informality of land border trade, since they are not usually manifested for Ni­gerian ports to either smug­gle through the porous bor­ders or compromise some Customs officers and those of other agencies to short-change the nation”.
He said the merits of the policy include the fact that the channelisation of motor vehi­cles to Sea Ports will enable the suppression of smuggling and create business and job op­portunities with the eventu­al emergence of bonded car parks for vehicles around the country.
“This will also lead to the emergence of bank branches and mechanic villages around the bonded car parks, with job opportunities for Nigerians”.
Ali lamented that, “cu­riously, Nigerians are being told that over 10,000 vehicles are already trapped 10 days into the enforcement of the policy when statistics show that vehicles properly import­ed through the land borders from January 2014 to 31st De­cember, 2016 was only 209,691 with N38,551,569,751 paid as duty.
Smuggled vehicles seized within the same period were 5,998 while duty paid was N10,271,734,415.36.”

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