Bracing up for levies, taxes in the New Year

Advertisements

Vehicle papers are due for update. A visit to tax collectors’ office in Oshodi, Lagos, showed the charges have gone up, more than what they were in 2022/23. New charges have been added and more are coming.

This is the breakdown: vehicle license, N4,000, it used to beN2,500 for an SUV; insurance N15,000 for private and N20,000 for commercial, it used to be N5,000 and N7,500; proof of ownership, N1,500; road worthiness, N6,000, used to be N2,500. That makes a total of N26,500 and N30,500 for a commercial vehicle owner in this troubling economy. It could be slightly lower, depending on what part of the country and a state’s appetite for levies. Otherwise, the rates are federal.

Advertisements

The procedure could also be cumbersome, due to red tape. So, if you are a big man who wouldn’t have time to que at the revenue office, you could send a driver. Otherwise, you could work with an agent who would take the stress off you, for a fee.

For insurance, bear in mind that we are talking third-party, which is mandatory. It only covers owner’s vehicle against third-party damages and losses and is authorised by the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) Act, as well as the Nigerian Insurance Act. If faithfully complied with and there are no leakages, this is a huge revenue source for insurers.

Advertisements

Unfortunately, when it was N5,000 for the third-party certificate, the insurers’ body said only about three million vehicles complied out of around 13 million vehicles plying the roads, that’s about 77 per cent non-compliance. Now that the cost has jumped by 200 per cent, it will be good to know what the compliance is for 2023.

The most stressful of the vehicle papers to obtain in Lagos is the certificate of road worthiness, which would take the motorist to some Vehicle Inspection Office (VIO), where they need to check technical details of the vehicle to ascertain its fitness for the roads. Never mind that roads, inner roads especially, are usually not fit for vehicles. Just comply. If your breaks are not good enough, or your lightings are faulty, you will go back and fix them before your vehicle will be certified fit to ply the roads. Not a bad idea.

If you are also too busy to subject yourself through the hassles, you could pay a fee of not less than N10,000 and have your vehicle certified in absentia. It looks like the authorities can accommodate that break in protocol, provided it doesn’t obstruct inflow of revenues. If they get too rigid, a lot of vehicles will be off the roads, especially decrepit danfo buses and articulated vehicles that plunge down bridges every now and then.

Proof of Ownership certificate is usually issued upon purchase of a vehicle. It was not designed to be an annual feast for tax collectors. Once you own a vehicle and it remains with you for 10, 20 years, you do not need to prove every year that you own it. When it changes hand, the burden of proof is transferred to the new owner.

Why do you now need to start paying yearly to prove that you own the vehicle? Well, that is one of the curiosities in this era of taxes. This levy was introduced surreptitiously, first in the form of rumour; then when levy collectors didn’t find strong resistance in pliant Nigerians, Proof of Ownership certificate has come to stay as a yearly tax.

The next one the authorities are pushing is a piece of paper that is usually among documents issued upon registration of a new vehicle/Tokunbo. That is the CMR, supposedly issued from the Central Vehicle Registration Office. Again, that piece of paper used to be issued once in the lifetime of a vehicle, unless it changes ownership. Now, information on X (former Twitter), supposedly from the Nigeria Police Force, claims this is an upgraded electronic Central Motor Registry (e-CMR), an information system aimed at enhancing the safety and security of all Nigerians.

It claims further that the initiative is a crucial step towards improving law enforcement capabilities and ensuring well-being of citizens. The statement was signed by Force Public Relations Officer, Force Headquarters, Abuja, ACP Olumuyiwa Adejobi.

Feelers are that this will cost each motorist N5,000 to obtain and they plan it to be yearly. We hope not, because you do not need to obtain fresh data from same persons yearly. If you need an update, it can be done with a click online and at no fee. There is no doubt that some tax consultants are pushing this, but the gimmick falls flat on its face when you realise that there is a national identification databank managed by National Identity Management Commission (NIMC), for the entire country, not just for less than 20 million motorists.

The terrorists who have taken over the nooks and crannies of the country don’t need your e-CMR to go into villages at will, kill and disappear into the mountains.

If you must enforce a phony e-CMR, make it affordable. Also make available a breakdown of how the accruing revenue is to be shared.

If your driver’s license is due for renewal, get ready the sum of N25,000 to validate it for a five-year span. That’s like N5,000 per year. If it’s for a new one, you’ll pay around N35,000.

It’s difficult to understand why that piece of plastic should be that expensive. What component goes into producing that item and why must government exploit every opportunity to fleece citizens, whereas it could be printed for a few hundred naira? But we know it’s all about revenue. It is the same thing with the international passport. The 32-page document goes for N25,000; 64-page for N35,000 and the one with a 10-year validity goes for N70,000.

If you live in any of the frontline cities, even in the suburbs, you pay annually for neighbourhood security. Those who are housed in posh estates pay far more to secure life and property. Even the 133 million plus that are multidimensionally poor are not safe.

If you live in a one-bedroom apartment at some upland locality, you pay N26,000 for community security, yearly. Then you pay N4,000 monthly to evacuate waste. That’s N48,000 for the year, hoping and praying that Lagos waste managers do not hike the rates soon.

For electricity, you could spend up to N25,000 monthly if you’re in a pre-paid zone, except that, most times, distributors of energy have little or nothing to sell. So, you end up buying costly petrol to provide energy for a few hours. You have to pump water from borehole because your location is not serviced by public water. There was a rumour that government would begin to tax private boreholes. They are yet to summon the courage. So unfeeling.

For Nigerians whose incomes have remained stagnant for years, steady increases in levies add to their daily struggles for survival. Households are battling unprecedented income squeeze since the removal of petroleum subsidy. Before then, citizens struggled to get by daily. A government that is unable to police its borders to prevent smuggling of imported petrol to neigbouring markets decided that the solution was to enforce prices that are prevalent in non-oil producing countries.

The policy has squeezed the pockets of citizens, forcing out money for governments to share and live big. That policy has diminished citizens’ capacity to produce. Yet, the little they have is spread thin on levies and taxes. For retirees, under-employed persons, jobless and aged citizens, Nigeria is huge mess and a pain in the neck.

Rents have gone through the roof, for millions who pay for accommodation. Cost of building materials is frightening. Cost of transportation is scary and many are now sitting at home, even for Nigeria’s most restless cities.

Shubham Chaudhuri, who is Country Director of the World Bank and a regular face in this government, wants the powers that be to go the full-hog on fuel subsidy removal. He wants petrol to sell at N750 per litre. If that is not happening already in far-flung markets within the country, it will happen soon, despite government’s denial.

It is now that the Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP), that was resisted in the days of the military will be unveiled and there can’t be any escape. The anti-SAP forces of old are tired, some retired. Some are in government.

It gets more troubling when the so-called economic reforms don’t get to the ports, where most items are cleared in an economy that is overly import-dependent. Cost of doing business is highest here among ECOWAS ports, not for lack of technology but for deliberate refusal to modernise. The analogue process creates bottle-necks that feeds the sleaze, extortion and leakages. The longer the wait, the higher the costs.

Whereas it costs a 20ft container between $4,000-$6,000 to arrive from Europe, the owner will need around N4 million -N5 million to clear it, after paying Customs and sundry charges. A 40ft container will need between N7 million-N10 million to clear. Demurrage accounts for N29,000 per day for a 20ft container and N90,000 for the 40ft type. Terminal storage charge was N15,000 per day. It has gone up by 200 per cent. Same time, what will cost $4,000 to export in other ECOWAS ports will cost times five here, or more.

Despite these charges, the ports are chaotic and inefficient. Other ports have become reliable alternatives for Nigeria-bound cargo. Hapless Nigerians pay for the madness.

Operators of the country love this crime scene because it’s in the chaos they thrive. No reforms yet, just more taxes.

*Credit: The Guardian*

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *