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Bureaucracy, excess agencies at ports minus for new import-export guidelines

Just as the Federal Government is to commence the implementation of the 2017 Revised Import and Export Guidelines effective January 1, 2018, as part of its policy of enhancing the ease of doing business in the country, stakeholders argue that the take off may be hampered by a number of unresolved issues at ports.

Besides, the new policy means that it will from January, 2018, become mandatory for both imports and exports to be palletinised in containers as done globally.

This was revealed by the Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, at a sensitisation workshop on the 2017 Revised Import and Export Guidelines in Lagos last week.

Though she was quick to explained that the date was fixed after due consultations with relevant stakeholders and assured that imports already prepared for shipment into the country were not affected, importers and exporters who barred their minds on the development hailed the policy but expressed fears of default from the same government that is driving the scheme.

They said the moving forth and back of government in clearly streamlining the number of agencies at ports will haunt the policy to a standstill come next year.

Again, they argued that not fixing the port access roads especially between Liverpool roundabout through TinCan Island port to Apapa, Mile 2 and Oshodi before the takeoff will amount misplacement of priority by the government.

They revealed that over 60 per cent of export-bound goods got spoilt on the way due to bad port access roads and documentation bureaucracies exhibited by some government agencies stationed at the ports.

Adeosun, represented by the Director, Home Finance Department in the ministry, Mrs. Olubunmi Siyanbola, had noted that the Federal Government had considered all concerns expressed by the trading public regarding the palletisation policy.

She said “After due consultations with the relevant key stakeholder MDAs, the effective date for full implementation of the guidelines was agreed upon, taking into account the need to give allowance for imports already prepared for shipment into Nigeria. In this note, I wish to announce that the Export and Import Guidelines will be fully implemented with effect from 1/1/2018.

“However, goods already loaded for shipment to Nigeria prior to this date will not be affected by the palletisation policy,” the minister noted.

Though the minister claimed that she has put measures to reduce documentation requirements from 10 to seven, for exports and from 14 to eight, for imports, operators say what they pass through currently is far from what the minister said she has done.

Siyanbola, said that additional responsibilities had been given to the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) and the shipping lines/other carriers.

The minister announced that the Customs shall coordinate the mandatory joint examination and Sign-Off Form, within the official working hours, including Saturdays.