By FRIDAY ENAPE/Truenews.ng
The Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC) and the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) will work together for the introduction of a single-window platform that would enable all regulatory agencies at the ports to ensure compliance to procedures, reduce delays and boost revenues.
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“E-Customs is the appropriate technology that will gladden the hearts of many. In no time, if there is synergy among the regulators — Customs, Nigerian Ports Authority, Nigerian Shippers’ Council and others — there will be a lot of compliance,” said Mr. Hassan Bello, executive secretary of NSC, when he paid a courtesy call on NCS comptroller-general Col. Hameed Ali (rtd.) on Wednesday. “We represent the shippers but we also know that compliance is a serious problem. If all the shippers would comply, then, there won’t be delays. Delay is occasioned by persistent failure to comply, and this is sometimes deliberate.
“It is to avoid the tax or customs duty that has really caused low compliance, and that is what we are really going to focus on this year — to work with Customs to see that if you comply your goods will be out; nobody will stop your goods.”
In a response, Ali said that NCS was ready to collaborate with the Shippers’ Council to sensitize stakeholders on the importance of compliance which had become Nigeria’s biggest problem in terms of trade.
“We have the habit of wanting to shortchange the government and the system. Our mentality on compliance is zero,” the Customs boss said. “We must find a model for enforcing compliance. There must be sanctions. I think that is the only way to ensure compliance.’’
Both bosses agreed there is a need to give shippers a new orientation on compliance.
“A discourse on compliance will go a long way and we look forward to cooperating with you (NSC) to ensure that a forum is organised to make our people aware,” Ali stated.
At a recent meeting with Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, he added, it was agreed that the e-Customs would be the main platform for the single window, which would be a warehouse for everybody to key into for information and for transacting business in Nigeria.
Ali said: “What is required from all other agencies including the Shippers’ Council is to develop their own technological platform and then key into the e-Customs platform. All those already in our platform will be integrated into this, but it will require a lot of technology; it will require robust platforms for agencies to key into that system and use it successfully.”
Bello expressed the readiness of the NSC to assist the NCS in achieving its N1.6trillion revenue target in 2020: “The target, as we heard, is for you to generate about N1.6trillion and you’ve already said you’re going to generate N2trillion. We are here to assist you in generating even more than the N2trillion.”
The Shippers’ Council boss applauded the NCS’ performance on Ali’s watch: “With the temporary closure of Nigerian borders, Nigerians have seen the relevance of NCS to the economy. It has brought international acknowledgement of the integrity and honesty displayed by the Customs boss.
“I think Nigerians have seen the relevance of Customs to the economy of this country. Your honesty, integrity is well known and internationally acknowledged. And that also goes to the economy. We must have disciplined people as heads of our various agencies and institutions.”
Ali promised to fast-track the MoU between the NCS and the NSC, adding that NCS would up its game to ensure every container being transported in the country was duly protected and all containers brought into the country taken out accordingly.