The founder, National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF), Dr. Boniface Aniebonam has said that contrary to expectations, the Pre-Arrival Assessment Report (PAAR) has brought more confusion in the customs procedures than it meant to solve.
Aniebonam who stated this in an interview with newsmen in his office in Lagos last week said that this was so because the management of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) was “blowing hot and cold” at the same time describing PAAR as advisory.
He maintained that for obvious reasons, PAAR could only be used for statistical purposes, just an insight adding that it was budgetary because one discovers that the Demand Notices (DN) issued after PAAR had been issued tend to be even more than what the PAAR had provided.
According to him, “Of course, PAAR is based on what you gave to it, what the freight forwarder uploaded hence the issue of compliance. Compliance is genuine declaration for customs purposes, the PAAR was meant to be sacrosanct but the operators never allowed it to work because they were not making genuine declaration and therefore, PAAR is irrelevant.
“As it is, under Destination Inspection, and that is where we advocated deploying Sections 26, 27 and 28, bill of sight, exactly what we are doing, customs examination. Even Destination Inspection has no place in customs law, what is contained in customs law is customs examination and do you know what that means? Even with the PAAR that is available, having been issued at the Headquarters, you are still at liberty under destination inspection to make an honest declaration.
“So, if somebody gives you a consignment to clear, a professional agent should ask the importer what is the actual content of the consignment despite what is in the PAAR. If he tells you, being an honest importer, you declare it; it is for customs to take appropriate action to ensure that government revenue is collected.
“So, if you are asking me about PAAR, are you not aware that NAGAFF and even part of the advice given by the consolidated stakeholders led by Shippers’ Council including CRFFN, they wrote that PAAR should be set aside under Covid-19 in a request to the Comptroller General of the Nigeria Customs Service. That request, nobody has replied it, that right now, under Covid-19, there is no need for PAAR. You can make an application to the Area Controller who will now dispatch the documents to where the containers is lying, customs examination be performed and appropriate DN issued, you go. Maybe after Covid-19, for data purposes, you can come back and close your records. That is the value that customs is expected to add under Covid-19 in port operation.”
Aniebonam who is also the National Chairman of the New Nigeria People’s Party (NNPP) further said, “But I am told right now from what I saw that PAAR is not to be used at the airports now which I refer as parcel post which is okay because some of the goods you needed are urgent goods and by the time you prepare this PAAR and all that, it takes a lot of time and have defeated the essence. So, that is a good decision the customs has taken. That is what I call proactiveness in trying to look at the operating environment or the state of the nation. I still insist that there is a lot to be done.”
He however opined that the concept of PAAR was beautiful but the stakeholders never allowed it to work even as he noted that it had to do with trade.
“If customs begin to seize all the cargoes under these infractions, the economy of the nation will collapse. What I thought that the customs must effectively do now under the circumstance is to ensure proper customs examination. Once you get it right, there will be peace. Under Destination Inspection which is even customs examination, what we need to do is to engage proper customs examination”, he added.
Photo: Founder of NAGAFF, Dr. Boniface Aniebonam.
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