Airlines not exempted from payment of ETLS, CISS, says Nigeria Customs

Comptroller-General of Nigeria Customs Service, Hameed Ali

Nigeria Customs Service says the exemption of commercial airline operators from payment of customs duty and VAT on imported aircraft and spare parts as granted by the Federal Government does not foreclose payment of other charges like ECOWAS Trade Liberalization Scheme (ETLS) and Comprehensive Imports Supervision Scheme (CISS).

The Service said it was amused to read that Chairman of Air Peace Chief Allen Onyeama was quoted saying that the Service was violating the directive of the Federal Government by collecting ETLS and CISS, thereby destroying airline business in the country.

The Service noted that the Chief Allen Onyeama statement was unfortunate and did not show Onyeama’s proper understanding of the extant regulations governing his industry, which could also be construed as a deliberate attempt to blackmail the Service.

Deputy Comptroller Joseph Atta, Public Relations Officer of the Service, stated this while reacting to Air Peace’s Chairman, saying the statement was deliberate to misinform the public regarding payments of customs duty, VAT and other charges.

Attah said “The attention of Nigeria Customs Service has been drawn to deliberate misinformation of the public regarding payments of Customs duty, VAT and other charges like ETLS and CISS on imported commercial aircraft and spare parts.

“Some sections of the media quoted the Chairman of Air Peace Airline to have stated that NCS is still collecting duty and VAT in defiance of the FG’s Executive Order on commercial airplanes and spare parts.

 “For the avoidance of doubt, we wish to draw his attention to Section 39 of the Second Schedule of the Finance Act as amended which states that “Airlines registered in Nigeria and providing commercial air transport services are entitled to duty-free importation of their aircraft, engines, spare parts and components whether purchased or leased”. The aforesaid did not grant concession on CISS and ETLS. The Act grants exemptions to Customs duty and VAT only.

 “Such imports are therefore still required to pay appropriate charges on ECOWAS Trade Liberalization Scheme (ETLS) and Comprehensive Imports Supervision Scheme (CISS). It was therefore in-line with the extant regulations that NCS did not collect duty and VAT on Air Peace’s recent import of E195-E2 with registration No. 5N-BYE but restricted itself to the collection of ETLS and CISS which amounted to the sum of N189,000,000.

 “Nigeria Customs Service was therefore surprised to read from some national dailies quoting the Chairman of Air Peace accusing it of defying the Federal Government order, thereby “destroying airline business in the country”. This attempt at guilt-tripping and threatening to shut down as a result of the presumed “Service defiance” of FG Executive Order is most unfortunate and does not show proper understanding of the extant regulations governing one’s industry, which can also be construed as a deliberate attempt to blackmail the Service.

 “The thinking that Nigeria Customs Service can act in defiance of FG Order is far-fetched as our statutory function is to implement the fiscal policies of Government to the letter. On the off chance that this faux pas is a result of a misreading of Government regulation, NCS wishes to advise Airline and indeed other industry operators to always engage the appropriate authority for proper clarification and necessary action, instead of resorting to self-help by using their obviously enormous visibility to gain public sympathy even when in contravention of extant laws.

 “As implementers of fiscal policies, we give assurances of our readiness to act in accordance with the principle and spirit of any government directive concerning any industry in-spite of an attempt to portray the Nigeria Customs Service negatively in the public domain.”

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