Confusion, mixed reaction trail Customs enforcement of TIN

Toju Vincent

08 April 2013, Sweetcrude, Lagos – The Nigeria Customs Service, NCS, enforcement of the use of the Tax Identification Number, TIN, and the Nigeria Integrated Customs Information System, NICIS, trade portal for the purpose of clearing cargoes at the port, has generated confusion and mixed reaction at the port, mostly due to the non-preparedness of many importers who are yet to get their TIN.

SweetcrudeReports gathered that many freight forwarders whose importers do not have the TIN number have been stranded at the port since the enforcement began, and consequently could not clear their cargo from the port.

It would be recalled that the Nigeria Custom Service had also recently warned importers and issued a deadline of March 31, 2013 for those who are yet to get the TIN.

Speaking with our correspondent yesterday, former Chairman of the PTML chapter of the National Association of Government Association of Freight Forwarders, NAGAFF, Mr. Ugochukwu Nnadi said that there is anxiety at the port because the new portal by the Federal Inland Revenue Service, FIRS, is not ‘accepting’ declarations and Customs is finding it difficult.

Nnadi said that this has slowed down the pace at which cargoes are being exited from the port since the commencement of the Tax payer Identification Number, TIN.

“For most part of yesterday, the system could not access any declaration at the port, the FIRS portal was not opening and everybody was being asked to produce TIN,” he disclosed.

He said that instead of placing a blanket ban on everyone who does not have TIN, it should be enforced only on corporate bodies and that the VAT should be the basis for any individual transactions.

Speaking further, he said that, “a student from abroad sent in a car and I wanted to clear it, but they are insisting that she must have TIN, she is a student abroad, how can she be forced to get TIN, the second is a widow whose families in UK are sending a car for her convenience, where will she get TIN?” he queried.

However in his reaction, former chairman of the Tin Can Chapter of the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents, ANLCA, Mr Kayode Farinto threw his weight behind the government on the issue of TIN registration.

“You cannot use my TIN if I am not the importer, Wealthy Honey has its TIN number and I have my own as an individual, corporate organisations have their own and individuals have their own, if I am not the importer, I will be stupid to use my TIN for somebody else’s cargo when I don’t even know what is inside the cargo,” he explained.

Farinto said that it is the best thing for Nigerian economy, despite the teething problems that are currently being experienced. He also said that the processing fee of N1, 500 for the e-form ‘M’ is acceptable compared to what was obtainable in the processing of the manual form ‘M’.

“Customs gave Nigerians up to seven months to register for their TIN, you need to have it before you can clear your cargo or do any business with the government, so nobody should be complaining now,” he said.

According to him, the new system of cargo clearance will further reduce sharp practices in the port to the barest minimum. He said that there is nothing like machine outside (M.O) at the port again.

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