Mkpoikana Udoma 09 August 2017, Sweetcrude, Port Harcourt – The Comptroller General of the Nigeria Customs Services, NCS, Col. Hameed Ali (Rtd.) has pointed out false declaration of containerised goods by importers and clearing agents as the biggest challenge facing the Service.
False declaration of goods by clearing agents, biggest challenge facing Customs – Ali
To this end, Ali charged traders, importers, exporters and clearing agents to be honest in goods declaration in order to expedite the clearance of goods with minimum delays.
Speaking at a Joint Stakeholders Forum with the theme ‘Improved Service Delivery’ organised by the NCS and the Oil and Gas Free Zones Authority, OGFZA, in Onne, Eleme Local Government of Rivers State, Ali said trade facilitation takes two to tango, hence the need for collaboration by all stakeholders.
He also said the service has been holding interactive sessions with strategic stakeholders aimed at addressing the issues faced by operators within the oil and gas free zones, as well as block all sources of revenue leakages associated with the oil and gas industry.
“A container is documented to be loaded with spare parts, but during clearing, we will find out that the container has bags of rice, two vehicles and spare parts; how do you reconcile that? When people say Customs is delaying our goods, how do you expect us to clear such container under two days? Most importantly we must safeguard the peace of our people, of recent you could remember we apprehended two containers loaded with arms.
“In order to straighten our procedures for speedy clearance of goods, our main focus is on honest Customs declarations by traders, proper utilisation of temporary importation permits, strict compliance with free trade zone regulations and prompt perfection of declaration on provisional release procedure.
“These measures are aimed at expediting the clearance of goods with minimum delays and reduced cost of doing business for greater profit to traders ad increased revenue to government.”
Ali who described the Oil and Gas Free Trade Zone as a special economic zone for development of the Nigerian oil and gas industry, said stakeholders must strictly comply with the rules governing their operations for economic benefits of the nation as against personal interest.
He also announced that the NCS was now offering free training on clearing processes in Abuja.
“The NCS has observed with dismay a skill gap among some of the operators involved in the clearing processes, especially with regards to extant laws and customs procedures.
“In this vein, the Service will be delighted to assist in the retraining of any interested partners at the Nigeria Customs Service Command and Staff College, Gwagwalada, Abuja for refresher courses.
“We advise operators within the oil and gas to avail themselves of the services of professional customs licensed agencies, while we encourage all operators within the zone to live up to expectation, as appropriate sanctions will be applied against defaulters.”