Adewale Adeniyi, Comptroller General of the Nigeria Customs Service, has disclosed that vehicle importation dropped by 45 per cent in the first quarter of 2024, due to foreign exchange challenges in the country.

Adeniyi revealed this during a recent interview with Arise Television where he stated that this period was very challenging for Nigerians and businesses in general because of the devaluation of the country’s currency to the global United States dollar.

“It affected car dealers. We had as much as a 45 per cent decrease in the volume of cars that were brought into Nigeria in that period.

“And they were not the kind of cars that fetched optimum revenue for the customs. Not only cars, but even regular imports were also affected because people could no longer import raw materials as they wanted and the volatility did not allow them to plan for tomorrow,” the CGC stated.

Without stating how, he expressed optimism that things would start picking up in the second quarter of the year.

According to him: “But we’ll see some relative degree of stability in the second quarter because there are lots of discussions going on. Some at the level of the National Assembly, most of them spearheaded by the Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister of the Economy, bring on the stakeholders that are involved together, to ensure that we achieve stability.”

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On the ongoing private jet owners’ verification exercise, Adeniyi said that a good number of private jet owners had started leaving Nigeria since the verification announcement was made.

Adeniyi also stated that since the commencement of the exercise weeks ago, only a few owners had shown up.

“Very few of them have shown up for verification and we gathered from intelligence that a good number of them have been leaving Nigeria since the announcement was given because they would not want to be verified,” he asserted.

According to Adeniyi, when you bring in an aircraft and you register, the next thing would be for the owners to come to Nigeria Customs and account for the customs duty if the jet is going to be used in Nigeria.

The CGC explained that the service started a private jet owners’ verification exercise because more private jets were operating outside the ambits of the law.

“We have seen so many of these aircraft flying and our record tends to show that only a few of them have shown up to pay duty and this is why we are bringing this verification up,” he said.

The CGC disclosed that data obtained from the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority revealed that, though many private jets were operating in the country, only a few paid customs duty.

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Adeniyi explained that when the exercise started sometime in 2019, the service realised N2bn.

“Recall that this was not the first time we did it. We did something close to this in 2019 and the exercise fetched us as much as N2bn within the short time that we did it.

“We discovered that there were more private jets that were operating in Nigeria but had not been brought under the ambit of the law. So, the data that we got from the NCAA showed that only very few of them paid customs duty to operate in Nigeria,” Adeniyi stated.

According to the customs authority, private jets used in Nigeria are required to pay duty according to international aviation law.

“If they are here for a brief period in the Nigerian air space and go, they are not obliged to pay any duty. If they were here on a temporary importation visit but once they are here and used within Nigeria, they are liable to pay duty,”

The CGC reiterated that the verification exercise was to confirm those operating within the ambit of the law and those that were operating outside the law.