By Philip Shimnom Clement

A news website recently published that the Nigerian Customs Service has reduced customs duties on imported vehicles, known as “tokunbo”.

The story was also shared on Facebook with the caption “FG cuts tariffs on Tokunbo vehicles”.

The story has generated 373 likes, 292 shares and 68 comments at the time of this report’s filing on Friday.

Verdict: Misleading

Verification: On April 4, a news website posted on its website that the Federal Government, through the Nigerian Customs Service, had reduced tariffs on imported vehicles.

The online news site wrote: “Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) has revised the rate of duty on imported used vehicles, also known as tokunbo, from 35% to 20%, has learned from 9news Nigeria.

“The rate of duty is applicable on the Common External Tariff (TEC) trade portal, under HS code 8703 at a rate of duty of 20%.

“Clearing officers, however, expressed shock that command officers were unaware of such a development until they brought it to their attention.”

Background:

Although there has been speculation recently about reduced tariffs on imported vehicles, there has been no official communication from the agency about the reduction.

In the same vein, one of the national newspapers reported on April 3, 2022 that the customs had refuted the allegations of reducing the tokunbo car tariff.

“The Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) has refuted claims that it has reduced duty on vehicles from the current 35% to 20%.

“The Assistant Comptroller of Customs and the service’s National Public Relations Officer, Timi Bomodi, confirmed to The Guardian that the alleged 20% duty rate was ‘just a mix-up’, pointing out that the 35% duty remained.

But Bomodi dismissed the speculation saying: “There is no reduction in vehicle duty, it was just confusion. This will all be settled by Monday. He added that anyone making a payment based on the error on the portal would be forced to pay the difference.

Also, Checks by Daily Trust on the Customs Service’s website showed no up-to-date information on the matter.

Despite the fact that President Muhammadu Buhari signed the Finance Bill on December 31, 2020, which provides for a downward revision of excise duty rates on tractors and motor vehicles for transport, the customs has since not implemented the policy.

The federal government had concluded plans to reduce the tax payable on imported cars from 35% to 5%. This is contained in the 2020 draft finance bill which will be presented to the National Assembly.

The bill then became law after being passed by the National Assembly and assented to by the President.

Details of the bill shared by the presidency also show that the import duty on tractors and motor vehicles for transporting goods should be reduced from 35% to 5%.

The bill also provides tax relief to companies that donated to COVID-19 relief funds as part of the private sector-led coalition against COVID-19.

To improve the ease of doing business, the bill also proposes that the acquisition of software should now be considered a capital expenditure.

Hajiya Zainab Ahmed, Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, previously explained that the reduction in import duties and levies was aimed at reducing the cost of transport.

Conclusion: Although there is a provision in the finance law for 2020 for the reduction of import duties on vehicles to 5% in order to encourage local production, the implementation is still in progress and has not yet started. As such, the online journal’s claim is misleading.