The Assistant Comptroller General of Customs in change of Zone A, Comptroller Banke Adeyemo has charged importers to brace up and fulfill the national obligations as required of them.
Adeyemo who was speaking to newsmen in Lagos said that since the international trade bestows obligations on the importers which they fulfill, that it is also mandatory that they must fulfill the national obligations adding that trillions of naira were exchanged in the bank and transferred aboard to bring in all these imports even as she contended that it is just equitable for the government to have a percent of that as import duty when the goods come into the country.
She stated that aware that Zone A has the highest population of stakeholders and that the diversity of their stakeholders is the diversity of their challenges, the officers of the Zone have been made to appreciate that they have huge responsibility to deal with the diversity of challenges especially at the port where they handle international trade.
The Customs boss affirmed that in the transformation agenda of the federal government, the Customs is seen as the catalysts and Nigeria as an emerging economy has to diversify from a hydrocarbon economy to a multi sector economy.
According to her, “the officers at the port have to deal with numerous non oil imports which they handle every day. It brings challenges but they have been trained over time, we have enjoyed capacity”.
“Many years ago, clearance at the was done manually but we have transformed, the government has transformed us to the automation system which is what we do now”.
“The officers over the years equally have acquired skills and we have moved from ASYCUDA ++ to ASYCUDA 3.0 to ASYCUDA 3.5 and to NICIS. On the platform of NICIS is when we took over from the service providers, no longer do we have the Risk Assessment Report being issued. We now have the Pre- Arrival Assessment Report called the PAAR”, she said.
PAAR according to the Zonal controller is a change and change anywhere comes with tension which gradually easy off with time panting out that a contingency plan has been put on ground in order that the stakeholders and importers would not feel the impact of the transition to PAAR.
She further noted that the contingency plan where the service has put on ground is a self-assessment mechanism to guarantee a seamless flow of legitimate trade which has been the bane of the government stressing that in the new automation system, the service has enough tools and that the officers have been trained to facilitate legitimate international trade.
Adeyemo disclosed that the government during the beginning of the year gave the service a target of 1.2 trillion naira as its key performance indicators noting that the government had studied the service performance over the years and they have seen that it could collect it.
She maintained that Zone A being a strategic Zone would have to collect 75 percent of the total target as revenue.
“The revenue optimization is a challenge which we have to fulfill. I have some structures in place that I am going to put on ground. I am going to mentor the officers, I am going to call on their sense of patriotism, discipline and integrity or patriotism, the whole thing amounts to a wasted effort,” she opined.
The Zonal Controller revealed that in the past, the service was having challenges with dealing with the activities of the smugglers who had superior weapons compared to that of the service disclosing that the trend has changed with the acquisition of modern arms and ammunition by the federal government to enable the service to contend with the smugglers.
On the accommodation problem bedeviling the officers of the service, Adeyemo noted that will soon be a thing of the past since the Customs Management has embarked on renovation and Construction of new accommodations for the officers across the nation saying that as soon as they are completed, they will be put to use for the officers.