16 May 2014, Lagos – Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) generated about N29.3 billion from its Apapa Area 1 Command, Apapa, Lagos in the month of April, 2014. The amount is over 50 per cent of the N55 billion collected between January and March 2014 , when the command which has the Nigeria’s premier port, Apapa Container Terminal (ACT) under its watch was grappling with the challenges of the newly introduced Pre Arrival Assessment Report (PAAR).
Over 28,861 PAAR were issued by the command in April alone. The figure is higher than what the three erstwhile destination inspection (DI) service providers were able to achieve during the Risk Assessment Report (RAR) regime.
The three service providers were issuing an average of 900 RARs daily which has now been surpassed with an average of 1000 PAARs daily with NCS fully in charge of DI. It was gathered that the command surmounted the challenge of PAAR as a result of the dedication of its personnel to duty and apt application of available technology.
Customs Area Controller (CAC) of the command, Comptroller Charles Edike, who confirmed the development in a forum in Lagos described the feat as a product of hard work and increasing deployment of information communication technology (ICT) by men and officers deployed to serve at the command.
According to Edike, the PAAR document which is a new requirement for goods clearance at all customs ports, is now issued within hours of entry submission in Apapa port, provided importers or agents make declarations that are not self-contradictory which may cause the automated system to reject such entries.
Edike, who described the initial challenges faced by the introduction of PAAR as teething problems, added that such problems were not unusual for any project at inception as they were challenges that are surmountable.
At inception of PAAR regime, over 99,000 RARs were left unattended to by the destination inspection service providers which made the customs to address the challenge of backlog of imports delayed at the ports.
“We are fully aligned with the patriotic zeal and optimism of our Comptroller General Customs, Alhaji Dikko Inde Abdullahi, who has instilled in us the belief and confidence that Nigerians can do better what foreigners do in any sphere of our national, economic and social life.Initially, dealing with the 99,000 Form ‘M’ that were not perfected by the service providers alone is enormous task for us and when you add that to the teething problem of PAAR itself, then you will agree with me that, certainly you will understand the kind of challenge the service will be faced with,” he said.
According to him, “we are happy that PAAR is coming out beautifully and I must say that we are coming out of the storm gradually and as we speak PAAR is now being transmitted with ease. PAAR is rolling out smoothly and before the importer gets home after processing his form M”, the PAAR will be ready before that same night.”
He stated that in the face of tariff increase for imported rice, which constitutes a significant percentage of the revenue collected by the command, efforts have been intensified to block all possible areas of leakages and ensure maximum collection of all monies due to the government.
– John Iwori, This Day