According to the Customs law, valuation is based on transaction value; that is, the price paid for the article. Duties and taxes are calculated on the CIF. CIF is the transaction value, plus insurance, plus freight. For example: Invoice – $2000; Insurance $10; Freight $500: CIF= $2,510.
In the absence of a transaction value/invoice, other methods are used to arrive at an estimated value, ie, similar goods with other factors taken into consideration; identical goods; fall-back method, etc. Importers should be shown evidence of such values. Customs transactions must be transparent, above board and fair.
Customs should not arbitrarily disregard transaction values, and unlawfully without merit or foundation place ridiculous values on goods without regard to demand and supply; or the market prices especially on the world market, which are easily accessible through the Internet. Sometimes Customs Valuation Officers send you to get valuations from some so-called agents who do not import even one per cent (1%) of the vehicle supply, who are not qualified to be deemed experts in market valuation especially in second-hand vehicles, and who do not even import such vehicles.
Yet still, Customs uses such baseless valuations and force the importer under duress and malice, to pay excessive duties and taxes, often times resulting in financial, emotional and mental stress. Customs is obligated to collect what is due to them – nothing more or nothing less. Customs’ actions must be within the law and should help to facilitate trade. Time is of the essence in every transaction.
The Customs Tribunal is important to the settling of disputes. It should be operational, functional and transparent and have the hallmark of an open court. Matters should be dealt with on a daily basis or at least three times a week, so as to facilitate trade and also to expedite matters.
I bought a car for US eight thousand dollars cash (US$8,000). Will Customs accept my transaction value? If not, why not? A person should have an idea of the taxes and duties he or she has to pay when importing. It is the fair and right thing to expect.
Let me take this opportunity to congratulate the Commissioner for the GRA television programme which is very good.
However, I humbly suggest that there should also be a call-in programme where persons can contribute meaningfully, but not to attack or make personal allegations.
Thanking the Commissioner in anticipation for his information and guidance, and also the editor for publishing my concerns and observations.