Founder National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF), Dr. Boniface Aniebonam has advised the Comptroller General of Customs, Hameed Ali to form a strategic partnership with the Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarding in Nigeria (CRFFN) to enable the Service address issues bordering on trade compliance by clearing agents.
Anieboam while speaking with SHIPS & PORTS DAILY in his office at the weekend maintained that CRFFN is the only platform through which such issues could be addressed.
According to him, the law which stipulates punishment for both the giver and the taker in cases of bribery between an officer and importer/ agent has not helped in fighting corruption in system.
He said, “Of course the laws are there regarding untrue declaration and concealment but you cannot enforce it as such because this is trade and the import guideline of 2006 has created a kind of soft-landing for matters of this nature for additional duty to be given because it is trade.
“So it is about government taking care of its operatives adequately in terms of welfare so that they will not connive with the trading public to cheat the same government. Why we have not been able to fight corruption in the system is because both the giver and taker are both culpable. But if the government will listen, the person that should be held responsible in cases of bribery is the receiver because he is the person under oath.
“An agent of the government is under oath to serve and respect the constitution of this country so he does not have any reason to connive with a business man who wants to make profit in his business and how he goes about it is not the officer’s business and if it contravenes the law, he should be arrested.
“But if you turn around and connive with the business man to cheat the government you have sworn under oath to serve and respect then something is wrong with the officer.”
Aniebonam also called for the urgent review of the licensing regulation of the Nigeria Customs Service which only recognises corporate bodies saying that it is a very big threat to customs revenue collection and as not helped in the area of capacity building.
“If you want to go professional, you must be an individual, so that strategic relationship between Customs and CRFFN becomes very clear. Customs should therefore jettison the licensing regulation predicated on corporate bodies,” he said.
He also said there is need for Customs to harmonize its procedures and be more transparent vis a vis duties payable at the various entry points.
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