ANLCA decries multiple alerts at Tincan Island customs command


…Seeks replication of Tincan Island command one stop shop model

The Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) has requested a directive by the Customs Management to all customs commands to adopt the Tincan Island command’s one stop shop Dispute Resolution Centre approach where issues of value must be treated by Valuation units to resolve related issues.

The National Vice President of ANLCA, Dr. Kayode Farinto who made this request during a visit to the Coordinator Zone A of the Nigeria Customs Service, ACG Katherine Ekekezie in Lagos recently however said that the Tincan model was theoretical as over nine (9) different alerts namely; Comptroller alert, Compliance team alert, DC Enforcement alert, M-Rep alert among others still exist in practical terms.

Farinto therefore called for a practical step to eliminate alert system at the command so as to facilitate trade and promote businesses.

In his reaction, the Public Relations Officer of the Nigeria Customs Service, Tincan Island command, Mr. Uche Ejesieme noted that one stop shop centre which Comptroller Musa MBA conceived shortly on resumption at the command barely a year ago was actually to streamline procedures such that issues of unnecessary bureaucracy and issues of going from pillar to post could be tackled adding that a visit to the centre, one would discover that valuation officers, officers from Intelligence Unit as well as officers from the Query and Amendment were domiciled there to streamline operations.

Ejesieme stated that “If for instance you have an alert that is related to value, there and then, using the system, Query and Amendment will send it to Valuation for their attention for necessary query. If it is something that has to do with classified information, CIU of course, generates classified information and passes to them to guide in whatever thing they are trying to address either. If it is something that has to do with classification, then Query and Amendment comes in with the appropriate HS Code on the item and maybe advise the Valuation on proper value”.

He added that the major constraint which he knew from his independent analysis and from the experience that he had garnered over the years about import and export in Nigeria and which he believed all the commands were trying to grapple with was the issue of compliance saying that once there was high compliance level, it would be extremely difficult for issues of alerts to come.

According to him,” But I can assure you that with all these things that had been put in place, this meeting we had it on the 4th of March and we came up with streamlining procedures in one stop shop. Don’t forget that once you want to implement any policy, there is bound to be teething and pioneering challenges and what we are trying to do now is to sensitize the stakeholders, let them know that this place actually exist because most times, you discover that the issues that are often times coming up are issues of valuation and classification.

“And that is why beyond the fact that we have a Dispute Resolution Committee, in fact we received about four documents today for Dispute Resolution Committee to deliberate on. Once the agents come now, my duty as the Secretariat of the Committee is to summon all the appropriate officers so that we can look at these cases on their merits. Why we cannot work in absentia is because we might need one or two questions to ask the declarant.

“So, once it comes on that platform and we discover that the declarant is correct, different from what the releasing officer is saying, the Chairman will direct immediately that a letter be caused to be written to whosever that is concerned to effect release of the consignment. I have been drumming it in the ears of the stakeholders to also take advantage of that”.

He further observed that apart from the one stop shop, the command also have Help Desk which was being coordinated from the Public Relations Unit adding that beyond the PR, the unit also conduct Help Desk, Servicom, Enquiries Desk and so on with a dedicated line that from wherever point one is in Tincan and felt that somebody was trying to take undue advantage of him, such a person should come up with the specific issue not hearsay.

“Let us see specifically, a particular declaration that is having these multi-faceted alerts so that we can look at it and know why. If we see that the officers are wrong in alerting unnecessarily, there and then we cause a letter; we can even make a phone call. If it is the one I cannot resolve here, I escalate it to the CAC. In fact, we made it democratic as you can also access the CAC who is the de fact head of the Help Desk. But surprisingly, I don’t know for whatever reason, most of us don’t want to take advantage of some of these creations to come and ventilate their challenges and to lay their complains. There must be alerts if you don’t do the right thing.

“Alerts and one stop shop are synonymous, they go together. We are using the one stop shop to streamline areas of challenges, if you like, also issues arising from multiple alerts to the extent that once you are done with that sector and if you have any further alerts, come to the help desk and we are going to address it. Once you are sure that it has been subjected to the same test and you are not found wanting in any way and for whatever reason, somebody is trying to put one kind of alert or the other, by the time you escalate it to us and we fail to do anything, then you now know that we are aiding and abetting.

“We have zero tolerant because Comptroller Musa MBA is a trade facilitator per excellence and he is not somebody that would tolerate any kind of bureaucracy that delays the trade value chain”, he concluded.

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