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Customs Should Stop Using Dollar Rate To Set Import Duties, US Auto Dealer Advises 

Customs Should Stop Using Dollar Rate To Set Import Duties, US Auto Dealer Advises

_…Seeks FG & State Support For Dosumu Fire Victims_

Chief Toriola Olojede, a renowned auto merchant who is based in Bronx, New York, United States has condemned the use of dollars by the Nigeria Customs Service to determine the duty and clearing of automobiles coming into Nigeria, even as he appealed to the Federal Government to reverse the policy.

The Kogi born sexagenerian also berated the government for not being consistent with its policy, noting that the same government who condemned dollarisation of the Nigerian economy was the one using same dollars to ascertain and fix import duties.

He added that the high prevalence of dollars in circulation contributed largely to the free fall of the naira against the United States Dollars and other foreign currencies which was causing many businesses in the country to collapse.

According to a statement Olojede sent to newsmen from the United States on Thursday via email, the business tycoon said:

“Now if anybody is calculating car import duty In Nigeria, there must be a proper understanding of the standards set by the Nigerian Customs Service for 2024. These standards have given a guide to car dealers and other dealers that dollars would be used to determine the important duties and the clearing of consignments at various sea ports.

This step and measure by the Customs under the instruction of the Federal Government will further impoverish many Nigerians and put them in a state of poverty and sadly many of them have already lost their businesses and other means of livelihoods.

For example Toyota Camry 2012 which we used to clear between 500,000 naira to 700,000 in 2023 is now being cleared for 3.5 million. Early this Federal Government through the Central Bank condemned in strongest terms the dollarisation of the Nigerian economy, the same government is using the dollars to determine import duties. That is policy inconsistency and it is totally unacceptable. Government must stop speaking from both sides of its mouth and must be responsible and responsive to the plight of the citizenry. They need to put Customs to check and make import duties to determine the local currency which is the naira.

“In January 2024 when I was in Lagos, I read in the dailies that all categories of imports recorded significant declines. Other areas of import trade that experienced significant drops from 2023 to 2024 included ship traffic, cargo traffic, and container traffic as well as berth occupancy.

“The Naira had recorded unprecedented depreciation with the official exchange rate closing at figures that could give business owners and importers heart attacks. I am afraid the trade situation is expected to deteriorate further in 2024 because of the volatility of the local currency. Amidst sustained depreciation of the Naira, Nigeria’s motor vehicle imports recorded a massive 32 per cent decline in 2023 with total imports through the Nigerian ports at 132,293 units, from 194,550 recorded in 2022. Sadly the sharp decline is still continuing in 2024 up till this period unabated. We learnt that the government is trying but they can do better so that there will be improvements and succor to the ordinary citizens.”

Chief Olojede also expressed worry over the lukewarm attitude of the Lagos State and Federal Government on the unfortunate fire incident which led to the destruction of properties worth trillions of naira at Dosumu in Lagos Island.

He said victims of the inferno who are taxpayers must be accordingly compensated.

“I am completely disappointed in President Bola Tinubu whom I strongly hold in high esteem, I’m deeply surprised that he could not visit the scene of the serious fire incident at Dosumu in Lagos Island, an ugly event which made international news. The fire incident left many citizens homeless, hopeless and jobless. These are tax payers, there was no compensation of any kind, yet government could not grant them a breather, only to see the government with bulldozers, brought down more houses, destroyed things more for the already victimized and traumatized citizens, leading to scraps and unburnt goods from the site were also being stolen by area boys. This is unfortunate and very regrettable.

“Some of these people who were even struggling to sell their wares by the roadside are now being brutalized and chased away. A government with a human face will offer its citizens succor and not inflict more hardship on them. There is serious deprivation and hunger in the land, President Bola Tinubu of Nigeria and Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos State must rise to the occasion and give support to the victims of Lagos Island in the nick of time. These are people who have lost trillions to the inferno.

“My appeal further goes to the government to allow these market men and women to sell their wares within the Dosumu vicinity so that their sources of income and livelihoods will not completely vanish. They shouldn’t suffer double calamities, loss of goods fire and lack of access to trading simultaneously. Some of them depend solely on the income they make from their daily sales. They have children at home and these children will also feed and go to school, the burden of the hardship will be too much for them to bear. Therefore the government allowing them within the ambit of the prerogative of mercy to engage in their daily sales will significantly help in reducing violent crimes as well as ridding the streets of destitutes.” Olojede stated

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