22 April 2014, Lagos – The Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) has redeployed over 1,000 officers to facilitate the processing of Pre-Arrival Assessment Report (PAAR) at the ports and other designated clearing outlets.
The exercise is to ensure that only officers with the requisite knowledge of classification and valuation man PAARs desk, it was learnt.
Sources said the Customs Comptroller-General, Alhaji Dikko Abdullahi, ordered the redeployment to end the initial challenges.
Senior officers are working with young officers knowledgeable in computers to produce between 1,800 and 1,900 PAARs daily.
At the Apapa Customs Command, which is said to be the fulcrum of PAAR’s implementation, the Customs is making progress in the generation and transmission of the document.
According to findings, the Command generated and transmitted 19,198 PAARs between last December and last month. About 6,632 were utilised, leaving a balance of 12,566.
A breakdown of the figures indicated that 781 PAAR were transmitted in December, 372 were utilised and 409 unutilised. In February, the Command recorded 5,365 PAARs; 1,792 were utilised and 3,573 were unutilised.Of the 9,722 PAAR generated and transmitted last month, only 3,338 were used, 6,384 were not.
The Area Comptroller, Apapa Command, Charles Edike, said the Customs began the transmission of 250 PAARs daily in December. He said Abdullahi complained that the figure was too small and ordered that “we should increase to two shifts, morning and evening. With two shifts, we transmitted 500 per day. He was still not satisfied with this, despite the backlog of 99,000 RAR left behind by the service providers”.
Edike also said the opposition against the PAAR regime by a section of stakeholders was a smear campaign to discredit the process.
‘’We are aware that there is a lot of smear campaign to discredit the PAAR initiative. Not everybody likes good things, some people thrive on confusion.
‘’If Customs is not ready, how would this quantum of PAAR be generated? How many Form’ M’ are processed in a day? How many declarations are processed in a day? People are being mischievous in their assessment of the process and their view is myopic. Even the three service providers combined could not generate this much RAR in a month throughout the eight years they operated,” he argued.
He noted that importers waited until their cargoes arrived before they began to process their Form ‘’M’’ and they are laying the blame on PAAR, saying it is a pre-arrival method. But importers and their clearing agents, are doing post-arrival, he said.
“For RAR, it is fine, but for PAAR, that is not the concept,’’he said.
He noted that an importer is not supposed to start importation until his Form ‘’M’’ is approved.
‘’It is after the bank has forwarded the Form ‘’M’’ to the Customs’ portal that you place order. But some people want to circumvent the process and when they run into a hitch, they blame PAAR.’’
He said: ‘’The purpose of this new clearing procedure is to engender change in our attitude. It is to infuse efficiency into out clearing procedure, to change from being analogue to electronic for speed, efficiency and cost-effectiveness.”
The National President, National Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents, Prince Olayiwola Shittu, confirmed that Customs has improved on the issuance of PAAR, urging the Comptroller-General not to relent in his resolve to forge ahead.
“The truth is that Customs has improved tremendously on its operation. We are happy with the level they are issuing PAAR, but the C-G must not relent in his effort. If he goes to sleep, his work will also go to sleep,” Shittu said.
An importer, Mr Solomon Adeseye, urged Dikko to involve more of his officers in PAAR operation so that the initial problem associated with the scheme would not repeat itself.