The Federal Government has fixed March 31, 2017 for the commencement of registration of automobiles being imported into the country under the Vehicle Identification Number scheme.
It is expected that the scheme will put an end to the smuggling of vehicles into the country through the land borders, and eliminate revenue leakage by ensuring that appropriate duties are paid on imported vehicles.
The Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, who disclosed this during the opening of a workshop on the integration of the National Vehicle Identification System held at the Customs Command and Staff College, Gwagwalada, Abuja on Monday, said the initiative aimed to introduce technology to counter the activities of smugglers and boost revenue collection.
In attendance at the workshop were the Comptroller General of the Nigeria Customs Service, Col. Hameed Ibrahim Ali (retd); Secretary of the Joint Tax Board, Muhammed Abubakar; Corps Marshal, Federal Road Safety Corps, Boboye Oyeyemi; and Assistant Inspector-General of Police, Alkali Usman, who represented the Inspector-General of Police.
Adeosun, according to a statement by her Special Adviser on Media, Festus Akanbi, stated that revenue would be increased by reducing leakages through the nation’s porous borders, adding that there would also be a reduction in imports under-declaration and evasion of duty payment.
The minister stated, “Going forward, we are introducing a new system where all vehicles will be registered using the Vehicle Identification Number, effective March 31, 2017. Customs clearance will be linked to the VIN, and this in turn, will be required by each state government at the point of vehicle registration.
“Effectively, any vehicle on which duty has not been paid will not be able to be registered and driven in Nigeria. We are using technology to make smuggling an unprofitable venture.”
She explained that members of the public would be advised to ensure that they obtained proof of customs duty payment when purchasing a vehicle to avoid being saddled with the liability of unpaid duties and related penalties.
The minister noted that the country was losing billions of naira annually to the activities of smugglers and described the VIN system as a powerful tool against the illicit and dangerous practice.
Adeosun added, “The VIN provides a form of identity for each vehicle that will be linked to proof of ownership and connected to a centralised database. Another advantage of the VIN is that the original vehicle manufacturers will be aware of the vehicles imported into Nigeria.
“This information is important where safety and other recalls are issued internationally. The manufacturers will now have no excuse for not extending the benefits of such recalls to Nigerian customers.
“The objective is to ensure transparency and accountability in the collection of duties and create a central system for tracking all vehicles coming into Nigeria independent of point of entry, shared database for all regulatory and enforcement agencies and requirements. As we expand the database to cover all cars, we will be able to tackle car theft and non-insurance of vehicles, among others.”
According to the minister, the collaboration between the Customs, FRSC and the Federal Inland Revenue Service will be instrumental to achieving this objective.
She added that the programme was also expected to significantly boost vehicle security and ease of transfer of vehicles from one owner to the other.