Customs to train importers, agents on import procedures, guidelines

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The Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) has said that it would organize a town hall meeting where it will invite importers from across the nation to rob minds on issues bothering on importation and clearance of goods from the nation’s seaports immediately after the 2019 general election.

The Zonal Coordinator of the Zone A, ACG Katherine Ekekezie who disclosed this while playing host to the members of the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) who paid her courtesy visit in her office at Harvey Road, Yaba, Lagos recently said that the meeting had become urgent going by the number of abuses noticed during cargo clearance at the ports.

Ekekezie wondered why an importer would not get his Pre-Arrival Assessment Report (PAAR) on his own but chose to give it to an agent who would now go back to take one week to study the document and thereafter come up with his own doctored document thereby putting the importer in problem.

In her words,” Why would you not import a container and you are sitting in your house and it will just be delivered there like in Singapore? We all travel, we see. The point I am trying to make here is compliance. Think about it, we have fast track, we have all the Manufacturers’ Association of Nigeria members on fast track facility so that they will just come and go. But when we now send our inspection team, you will notice that you will come in a plot of land and you have two companies, one is a Chinese company, the other one is a Nigerian company and they have one way in and one way out. What is that?

“It comes to what I have said, who licensed them? Did you conduct entry of premises? This is what I am saying, connivance and that is why Nigeria is not just there. It’s all about integrity, do something as if you are being watched when nobody is watching you. That is why we have checks and balances. Think about it, before, for two weeks, Global Scan has not given you your RAAR but now, once you send in your documentation and you get everything right, you have your PAAR within the hour because the boys are there doing nothing. It will just come and they will just churn it out like this. I am appealing that our compliance level must go up”.

She further promised that the Service would organize a training session for the licensed customs agents even as she recalled that it used to be the trend before now.

She however regretted that the Service after training the ‘big men’, hardly see them in the field to execute what they were trained to do rather they would choose to send their boys in the field to muddle up things thereby making the job of the officers very difficult.

“Those small boys, if you know what they get into. What you are thinking is not what they are thinking. By the time you tell him, go and clear this, this is the money. Go and pay shipping company; he must bring out his own ideas to cut that shipping company’s money, even to cut the customs duty and so on. So, please, we are going to start all over again but we want train those small boys so that we have people to talk to.

“We are concerned about who we will hand over this customs to. So, I want you to also show concern about your own children that you are handing over the job to. By mentoring, by coaching, we will all get there”, she advised.

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