By Racheal Ishaya
The Federal Government has initiated plans to use technology as an enabler to fight smuggling and increase revenue collections.
This was announced in a statement in Abuja on Monday by Mr Festus Akanbi, the Special Advicer, Media, to Minister of Finance, Mrs Kemi Adeosun.
She said the Minister of Finance, Mrs Kemi Adeosun, at a workshop in Gwagwalada, said the initiative aimed to introduce technology to counter the activities of smugglers and boost revenue collections.
In attendance at the workshop were the Customs Comptroller General, retired Col. Hameed Ali; Secretary of the Joint Tax Board, Muhammed Abubakar; Federal Road Safety Corps Marshal, Boboye Oyeyemi and AIG Alkali Baba Usman, who represented the Inspector General of Police.
Adeosun said that revenue would be increased by reduction in leakages through the nation’s porous borders, adding that there would also be a reduction in import under-declaration and evasion of duty payments.
“Going forward, we are introducing a new system where all vehicles will be registered using the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN), effective 31st March, 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 said.
She explained further that the public would be advised to obtain 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 Nigeria was losing billions of dollars annually due to activities of smugglers.
She said the VIN system was a powerful tool against the illicit and dangerous practice, involving importation of stolen, accident wrecked and other unsafe vehicles.
“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 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; 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 Nigeria Customs Service, Federal Road Safety Commission and Federal Inland Revenue Service will be instrumental to achieving the objective.
She added that the programme was expected to significantly boost vehicle security and the easy transfer of vehicles from one owner to the other.