Nigerians are to pay more for fuel particularly Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) also known as petrol if ongoing lobbying by the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) at the National Assembly scales through.
The NCS, checks by New Telegraph showed at the weekend, is seeking the reintroduction of N1.50 per litre import tax regime on petroleum products, which could fetch it N2.6 billion monthly on petrol imported into the country.
Comptroller-General of Customs, Colonel Hameed Ali [rtd], a report by NCS sighted by this newspaper showed, had already began the clamour for this petroleum tax regime at the 2020 budget defense session before the House of Representatives Committee on Customs.
The Federal Government in 2004 suspended the tax on imported petroleum products.
Before the suspension, a tax of N1.50 per litre of any petroleum product was paid by importers of fuel.
The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), sole importer of petrol into Nigeria, had said in a recent data that it imported and trucked an average of 1.736 billion litres of PMS monthly between January and October, 2019.
Using the 1.736 billion monthly import and truck out data, the N1.50 per litre fuel import tax would fetch the Customs N2.6 billion monthly on petrol imported into the country.
Speaking on the development, Ali said it had become imperative to reintroduce the tax regime in line with global best practices.
The same type of tax, he noted, was currently being implemented in about 36 countries at an average of $2.24 per gallon.
“The petroleum tax regime of 2004 before its suspension imposed N1.50 per litre. It is the considered opinion of the Service that this regime be reintroduced in line with international best practices as it’s currently operational in over 36 countries at an average of $2.24 per gallon,” he said.
The NNPC had also said that it trucked out N2.517 trillion worth of petrol in 526,000 trucks across the country in the last ten months.
Releasing the data as a part of measures to ensure safety and smooth operation in the petroleum products distribution value chain, the NNPC, in collaboration with other stakeholders in the petroleum industry and the Federal Government, said it had activated the Safe-to-Load initiative to mitigate incessant petroleum products tanker accidents and ensuing fire outbreaks across the country.
The meeting of the stakeholders held in Abuja was sequel to the initiative of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) Mr. Boss Mustapha, and the Inter-Ministerial Committee for Haulage Operations in Nigeria aimed at ensuring safety in the whole gamut of bridging process across the country.
The Group Managing Director of NNPC, Mallam Mele Kyari, said proffering a lasting solution to the challenge had become imperative given the frequent fire incidents from petroleum tankers with attendant loss of lives and properties.
A release by the Acting Group General Manager, Group Public Affair Division of the corporation, Mr. Samson Makoji, quoted Kyari as saying that the corporation as a socially responsible entity placed high premium on the lives of workers and citizens, noting that safety was one of the core values of the organisation.
“As an organisation founded on operational excellence, NNPC has a safety checklist for loading of petroleum products from its terminals and is interested in ensuring harmonisation of the Safe-to-Load checklists being used by all terminals across the country,” he said.
He stated that the corporation had commenced digitising all its analogue-loading facilities to ensure that all trucks leaving the NNPC depots comply with the required axle limits, emphasising that the corporation has kick-started installation of weigh-bridges and sprinklers across all loading gantries to forestall incidents.
The NNPC boss said that the corporation currently relied much on land transportation system to get its products across various locations in Nigeria, stating that a total of 19.23billion litres of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) was moved by 583,000 trucks in 2018, while 526,000 trucks transported 17.36billion litres of PMS between January and October, 2019.
Using a N145 litre modulated price, the 17.36 billion litres of petrol stood at N2.5172 trillion.
Meanwhile, the customs boss also stated that he had forwarded a proposal for a downward review of vehicle tariff to the finance ministry for consideration.
He said the service was proposing that customs duty on imported vehicles should remain 35 per cent while the levy be reduced from the current 35 per cent to between five and 10 per cent.
According to him, the proposal, if approved, will encourage compliance and boost revenue as the 70 per cent import duty and levy is encouraging smuggling of vehicles
On the issue of porous borders, Ali said Nigeria had about 4,070km of land, adding that in the dry season, the entire part of the North was usually accessible by road.
He said the service was currently working with the Nigerian Air Force on the deployment of geospatial technology so as to check the trend.
He added: “That is why you see motorcycles ferrying rice every now and then as shown in some videos. That is why we want to leverage technology to deal with it. Mr President has already approved e-Customs.
“We’re working with the air force on geospatial technology that will be deployed. Our officers are being trained by the air force. They will work to make the borders secure. Part of the ongoing drill is to develop an action plan and we’re making progress.”