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Senate hails CBN for new scanners, warns Customs against abuse, damage

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Indications have emerged that delays and logistic challenges frustrating examinations and revenue leakages at the ports due to failed scanners are now over.

This stemmed from the acquisition of Hi-Definition scanners and platform to check foreign exchange leakages and other infractions in the import-export value chain by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

The scanners will be distributed and fitted at all entry ports for use by the Nigerian Customs Service (NCS). The acquired a platform called Enterprise Screening Platform (ESP), through which leakages experienced in allocation and management of foreign exchange and revenue collection by the Nigerian Customs Service will be blocked.

The Chairman of Senate Committee on Customs, Excise and Tariff, Chief Hope Uzodinma, made the remarks while breaking the news on the new scanners for Customs to journalists in Abuja on Tuesday.

According to him, the technology would help in exposing leakages associated with revenue collection and other sharp practices in the NCS and other stakeholders in the import-export chain.

According to Uzodinma, the CBN has ”The platform is designed to aid the CBN in stabilising the Naira by providing accurate cross referenced data on all trade facilitation documents”.

”Those documents include Form M, Bill of Lading, Letters of Credit and Clean Certificate of Inspection.

“The platform will also help in tracking repatriation of foreign exchange proceeds record and online real time remote screening of in-bound and out-bound cargo or passengers,” the senator representing Orlu Senatorial Zone of Imo State explained.

Continuing, he said the new technology would replace the manual process of examination of cargoes and other processes that had led to so much corruption in the system.

While the ESP would further ensure judicious utilisation of scarce foreign exchange to ensure that genuine foreign exchange users gained unfettered and transparent access, Uzodinma noted that the process would effectively eliminate various foreign exchange abuses while leading to the appreciation in value of the Naira.

He disclosed further that ESP system will check corrupt practices like abuse of Form M, violation of foreign exchange manual issued by CBN, incorrect classification, under-valuation and under-declaration.

He recalled that ”The measures which have already been introduced by the CBN Governor, Mr Godwin Emefiele, came to the fore at the recent hearing of the Senate Joint Committee on Customs, Excise and Tariff and Marine Transport.

“At the hearing, CBN governor through the Chairman of the Technical Committee on Comprehensive Import Supervision Scheme (CISS), informed the committee that Nigeria was losing trillions of Naira through the old system.

”The CBN governor said the platform as designed would utilise revolutionary modular architecture to integrate Hardware and Software solutions to create a factual data mapping platform for absolute visibility of all transactions within the import-export chain.

“He said the platform comprises of a Network Operating Centre (NOC) that is a centralised command and control centre, where real time data from the Operational Screening Stations (OSS) are monitored.

“The OSS will be deployed at all exit and entry points in the country – land, air and sea – and comprise High Definition Scanners and proprietary analysis software.

“These are remotely linked by high speed Tri-Channel data path comprising of a mix of VSAT, BTS and fibre channels to the NOC,” he said.

Uzodinma announced further that the screening platform had Remote Screening Stations (RSS) that were configured as ”war room” which would be installed at the CBN, the Nigerian Customs headquarters, the Ministry of Finance and the Presidency.

Additional device specification showed that the Platform will be monitored from those locations in real time on a Video Graphic Display with 36 panels given life views of activities across all Nigeria’s entry and exit points.

He therefore urged the Customs to adapt to the new platform to check leakages associated with revenue collection and other sharp practices in the service.