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NIMASA, CUSTOMS to Check Temporary Import Permit Abuse

-By Danlami Nasir Isah

The Director General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Dr. Bashir Jamoh has lamented that the Temporary Import Permit (TIP) abuse is one of the biggest challenges his Agency faces in the discharge of its mandate.

Jamoh who stated this in Abuja when he paid a courtesy visit to the Comptroller-General of the Nigerian Customs Service, Col. Hameed Ali (rtd) solicited the collaboration of the Nigerian Customs in order to mitigate the abuse of the TIP by importers.

He stressed that often a times, importers hide under the Temporary Import Permit granted by the Nigerian Customs to avoid payment of levies due to government which is an economic crime. “We have to join forces to close loopholes in the Temporary Importation Permit system that importers often exploit to avoid levies due to the government.

The Director General said: “Those that are benefiting from this temporary importation bring in their own ship and after one year they will take it back to their country and import back with a different name. They do it constantly and this is to the disadvantage of our Nigerian ship owners.”

In his remarks, the Comptroller-General of Nigerian Customs Service, Col. Hameed Ali (rtd) pledges the commitment of the service to pooling resources with the authorities of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) to address the abuse of the Temporary Import Permit (TIP) issue and other problems in the sector.

The Customs Boss said there is need for both agencies to design a common framework for tackling the issues.

“We should create that synergy based on ICT. I request that your IT staff synergise with ours to develop a platform that will create that collaboration, such that everything we record or register will reflect in your own record.”

Col. Ali said particulars of ships should be registered in both Nigerian Customs and NIMASA’s records so that if there is any recycling of ship, using that platform, “we should be able to identify the ship and be able to apply the law as it is”.

Below are some useful tips on Temporary Import Permit:

What is Temporary Import Permit (TIP)
Temporary Importation means goods that are temporarily imported into Nigeria for specific projects, with the intention to re-export same after a specific period. Permits are usually granted for an initial period of one year.

What Can Be Temporarily Imported
Goods/equipment that can be temporarily imported include Oil rigs, vessels (ships), barges, heavy duty cranes, aircraft and other heavy-duty project equipment, whose values exceed $ 100,000.

Lease Agreement
Apart from documents like proforma invoice, equipment manual, registration certificates, covering letters, to Nigerian Customs and other statutory documents, Lease Agreement between the equipment owner and the Nigerian Importer must be submitted to Customs as well. The agreement specifies the lease period, the lease cost and the lease condition.

Formal Application for Temporary Import Permit
This is where the importer, through its designated agent issues a formal application to the Comptroller General’s office in Abuja for approval. The application is considered in tandem with other requirements before an approval letter is sent to the importer or importer’s designated agent.

Bond Security
Before a Temporary Import permit is secured by the importer or the importer’s agent on behalf of the importer, security for the Customs duty payable must be provided through a bond issued by Customs designated banks. That is why neither an insurance bond or a cash deposit is not accepted.

Extension of Temporary Import Permit
Temporary Import permits are usually granted for a period of one year; with possible extension of two for two tenures of six months each. That means after the first one year, it can be extended for another six months and an additional six months at the end of the first six-month extension. However, the maximum period approved for Temporary Importation is two years. Extension beyond this period can only be granted on a case by case basis only for a period of three or six months.

At the end of projects for which equipment was temporarily imported, the importer or the importer’s agent on behalf of the importer commences formalities for the re-exportation of equipment either by air or sea. This will include the processing of the Export Bill of entry and bond cancellation documents.

Export Bill of Entry
The essence of completing the Bill of Entry, which is obtainable at the Customs office is to enable the Nigerian Customs Service to examine and release the equipment to ensure that the information provided is accurate. It serves as an authority to process and ship equipment.

Conversion for Home Use:
If at the end of the approved permit period, the importer/equipment owner wants the equipment to remain in Nigeria permanently, approval to that effect must be secured from Customs Head Quarters in Abuja. In case you also intend to sell, the equipment to a third party in Nigeria, approval must be obtained, and Entry for Home Use processed with the Customs at the initial sea or airport of entry. Note that at this point, the original duty payable and the VAT applicable at the time of importation are fully paid before equipment conversion is approved.

Bond Cancellation
To cancel a Temporary Import bond, the equipment importer or the importers’ agent must show documentary evidence that the equipment has either been re-exported or converted for home use.