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70 to 80 % of import cargoes falsely declared—-Customs CG

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Fresh reason has emerged on why clear single window connecting all federal agencies at the nation’s ports may not be realized.

This is based on the body language of the Customs Comptroller General, Hameed Ali who has made it public that the Nigerian Customs Service (NCS) will not on the platter of achieving ease of doing business at the ports, compromise the security of the nation.

Giving insights during the display of another set of 470 Pump Action guns smoked out by the Tincan Customs Command during 100 per cent examination by the Customs Intelligence Unit (CIU), he said “70 to 80 percent of what comes in, comes under false declaration and that is why we find it difficult to effectively execute ease of doing business.”

According to him, “If we fast track and depend on document, these (rifles) are what we would be unleashing on our people which means we have to subject containers to 100 percent examination and that delays the honest people’s goods’.

“By the look on the importers face, we do not know whether he has concealed something or not so it is unfortunate that the honest people get to suffer and until Nigerians begin to do the right thing and become honest in the way they do business, it will be difficult for Customs to clear goods within the time frame that is globally accepted. That is the fact.”

Defending why Customs may not effectively be part of the executive order on ease of doing business at ports, Ali argued that “We won’t shy away from performing our duty because we want to fast track clearance of goods. The security of this country is more important to NCS than the money we collect in terms of duty. What is the use of money if there would be no security?

“This critical time, Nigerians have to bear with us because we will be forced to do our job beyond the ease of doing business because we want to safeguard lives and properties.

“When we get to the level of normalcy, we can now bring back ease of doing business and ensure that we conform with the global best practice. But for now, to safeguard our country, we have to go beyond ease of doing business.”

Business Hilights recalls that Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, in his capacity as Acting President, had on May 19, 2017 signed the Executive Order to facilitate cargo clearance at the Lagos Port Complex, Apapa and others which was expected to drive a hamonisation of government agencies’ into a single window for efficiency and ease of cargo clearance.

Whereas the Managing Director of Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Hadiza Bala Usman had met with representatives of government agencies operating at the port to announce major operational decisions that would establish a port community system, which would serve as a central portal for all agencies, the latest position of the Customs may bungle the entire effort.

The development can be viewed by stakeholders as another form of policy summersault by a government that is seeking more investments in the export and import sector of the economy.