Clearing agents call for harmonization of import database

Clearing agents have called on the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) to develop a uniform database for all imported items and make it accessible to the importing public.

Speaking in a chat with SHIPS & PORTS DAILY, Vice Chairman, Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA), Tin Can Island Chapter, Ada Akpunonu said there was need for Customs to develop and harmonize its data base to enable importers and agents have a fore knowledge of what they are expected to pay as duty on a particular item.

Akpunonu decried the current situation at the various Customs formation whereby Customs import valuation system is shrouded in secrecy and Customs commands issuing different values on a the same item especially imported vehicles.

She said the lack of database of Customs value, a situation she described as abnormal, has made some importers resort to smuggling in of vehicles through neighbouring countries which has resulted in huge loss of revenue to the country.

“Especially as it regards vehicles, you see all kinds of value being given; some high, some low and they are shrouded in secrecy rather than making it available to the importing public and this is why some of the importers will like to look for short cut. If they don’t go through Seme, they will try through the bush and all that. It is not acceptable; it is not a normal practice.

“There must be that harmony, there must be standard. What is obtainable here should be obtainable elsewhere.

“Why would a different value be given by Customs? What is obtainable in Tin Can is not obtainable at PTML. Why should the data base be hidden, they should make it public so that people will know what they are suppose to pay when they are bringing in a particular items.

Secretary of the chapter, Chuks Kanikwu said, “PAAR was introduced three years ago, they are supposed to have gotten their empirical database where all can access data and when you do holistic declaration and pay your duty nobody will be harassing you.

“Now it is an arm twisting tactics because you don’t know which is the benchmark or the acceptable figure. We are still behind international best practice with that.

“I know the CG has his template but we still want him to add to his template the empirical database which will help us so that people will not carry us blind.

“If you go to the trade hub now and say you want a CIF value for a 1/20 foot container of fish, you can’t go there and see it as three or five million. What we have in the trade hub is duty classification.

“They should include the data base for each item depending on the country it is coming from so that even if your importers submit a PAAR that is below what it should be, you will do a holistic declaration.

“Customs has operated PAAR for three years and they have issued for various items, they should therefore find an acceptable and average database and make it public.

“It will remove all this alert issues we are having,” he said 

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