LCCI seeks intervention of Customs CG over persistent delays in issuance of PAAR

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The Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) has called on the Comptroller-General of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Col. Hameed Ali (rtd.) to urgently intervene to put an end to the persistent delays in the issuance of the Pre-Arrival Assessment Report (PAAR).

The call was contained in a communiqué issued and signed by the Director-General of the Chamber, Muda Yusuf at the end of the Council Meeting of LCCI which held in Lagos last Friday.

The Chamber expressed concern about the persistent delays in the issuance of the Pre-Arrival Assessment Report (PAAR) to importers by the Nigeria Customs Service.

“This situation is contributing to cost escalation for many businesses; cargoes are delayed unduly leading to the payment of avoidable demurrage and high interest cost on borrowed funds by importers. The protracted delays in the issuance of PAAR is a negation of the policy of the government on Ease of Doing Business.

“The LCCI therefore calls on the Comptroller General of the Nigeria Customs Service, to urgently intervene to put an end to the persistent delays in the issuance of PAAR”, it said.

It further called for a concessionary tax rate for Small and Medium sized Enterprises (SMEs) in order to promote the objectives of job creation and inclusive growth as enshrined in the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) adding that small businesses were more vulnerable to the current challenges in the economy, hence the high mortality rate.

LCCI argued that this group of businesses deserved every support that the government could give for them to survive.

The Chamber also expressed concern about the investigating activities of anti-graft agencies and regulatory institutions regarding alleged infractions by corporate organisations even as it admonished that such investigation, as much as possible, be conducted in a discreet manner devoid of any form of media hype.

This it said was necessary to avoid unwarranted reputational damage and erosion of investors’ confidence while clarifying that this position did not diminish the significance of compliance by corporate organisations with extant laws and the imperative of proportional sanctions for proven cases of infringements of the law.

“The LCCI is a leading advocate of sound corporate governance in the country.  Meanwhile, it is also important that there should be proper coordination between regulatory institutions and anti-graft agencies in dealing with suspected regulatory infractions to avoid duplication of investigative actions”, LCCI added.

While expressing concern over reports of interception of containers on the highways by the Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON), LCCI was of the view that where there were outstanding charges to be paid to SON or where there were issues about SONCAP compliance, such matters should be dealt with before the container leaves the port contending that “It is unprofessional for the operatives of SON to be intercepting containers on the highways on account of some fees or charges that have not been settled by importers”.

“The meeting expressed worry over the practice by the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) instructing the banks to put a lien on the accounts of alleged tax defaulters.  The Chamber stresses the need for FIRS to adhere strictly to due process in dealing with issues of alleged tax defaults.

“There should be a proper communication and engagement with taxpayers to properly ascertain a tax liability before such extreme actions of invocation of a lien on the accounts of companies are taken. This practice is very disruptive and has caused grave embarrassment to many corporate organisations”, it concluded.

Photo: Director-General of LCCI, Muda Yusuf.

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