The Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) has said that it will spend the bulk of its 2017 budget on the training and re-training of its officers as well as on the training and re-training of the licensed customs agents.
The Comptroller-General of Customs, Col. Hameed Ali (Rtd.) who disclosed this while addressing members of the National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF) in Lagos yesterday noted that without training and re-training of customs officers and agents, there was no way they were going to meet up with the best practices expected of them.
He pointed out that the Nigeria customs service and the customs all over the world, were in a dynamic and ever changing environment adding that new protocols come up, laws were amended, the World Trade Organization (WTO) protocols were evolving just as new tools and instruments were coming up.
According to him,” Secondly, let me also assure NAGAFF, that this year 2017, the bulk of customs money will be spent on training and retraining of our own officers. We have realized that the Nigeria customs service and the customs all over the world, the situation is dynamic, things keep changing, new protocols come up, the laws are amended, the WCO protocols are evolving and new tools and instruments are coming up. Without training and retraining of our officers, there is no way we can meet up with the best practices that is expected of us. Therefore, this year, we have made it very prominent that in our own budget, we are going to spend the bulk of our money to train and retrain our own officers.
“In that budget, I have also created room for training of our own agents so that you can be acquainted with our procedures so that you can discover that it is an easy thing when you begin to fill out those forms and we are also making sure that our IT is upgraded. For those of you who are operating it, we are going from NICIS 1 to NICIS 2 which will create a bigger band, more space and more information into the portal.
“We are also working on building capacity for our officers. I believe it is not only training, we also need equipment. Government has bought into our request and very soon too, we will have scanners in our seaports, airports and borders. That I believe, once we get them in place, it will help fast track our own process of clearance. Once we can do that, I believe, the partnership we have will be strengthened further because you will be able to clear your goods in no time, the turnaround will be faster and then you make your own money and also customs collects its own money for government”.
The Customs boss revealed that the National Single Window (NSW) which had won the attention of the Federal Government would soon be up and running as according to him, the President, Muhammadu Buhari was charring the committee that was facilitating the smooth take off of the National Single Window.
“Thirdly, the issue of Single Window had been imbibed by the Federal Government itself. The President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria is the one charring a committee that is facilitating Single Window. That I believe will come to fruition not too long from now, hopefully, in the second or third quarter of this year, we should be able to have Single Window in place in Nigeria and if that is done, that would have created the broadband for all of us to key into and then create that avenue for ease of doing business.
“And let me also bring this to your notice, some of you may be aware, some of you may not, there is a committee which is being chaired by the Vice President of this country which is working to create ease of doing business in this country. If you remember that one of our problems is that we are one of the least in terms of grading on ease of doing business and one of our problems, those of us in the maritime, seaports, borders is that we have so many checkpoints and so many checks and balances and I want to assure you that very soon, government is working to reduce those protocols.
“We have a study that showed that Nigeria has the highest number of checks in terms of clearance of goods and I think that it is not the best that we should have. At the last count, I think we have about nine whole checks and our brothers here have about six or five. So, why can’t we merge these things and reduce it to that level? I think that, government is working on it and very soon, I want to assure you that we will reduce this checks and balances to a minimum that will create an avenue for faster and quicker clearance of goods so that the turnaround will be better”, Ali said.
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