National President of the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA), Prince Olayiwola Shittu, has disagreed with comments credited to the Founder of the National Association of Government Approved freight Forwarders (NAGAFF), Dr Boniface Aniebonam, over the Pre-Arrival Assessment Report (PAAR) customs clearance procedure.
Aniebonam told SHIPS & PORTS DAILY on Wednesday that the PAAR regime has not added any value to trade facilitation in Nigeria. He said that despite the loud trumpeting by the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) of the efficiency of the new customs clearance regime, PAAR has not made any significant impact on cargo clearance at the nation’s ports.
He said: “For me and NAGAFF, we are not keen about that pre-arrival assessment notice because we are saying that it does not add any value, rather it creates undue hardship. Anybody can blow his or her trumpet but we are not interested in that flying document because it does not add value to international trade in Nigeria. Looking at the issue of risk management it does not make any sense because all these imports without any pre-inspection procedure so even if you want to do profiling in terms of risk management you still have to do physical examination or automated examination especially when there are issues of homogenous (goods).”
Aniebonam said that PAAR does not provide the platform for proper risk management as, given the precarious security situation of the country, cargo still have to be subjected to physical and automated examination.
“If you look at the instances of concealment, false declaration, wrong description of import and all that then you are not in the position to risk manage what you did not see,” he said.
The NAGAFF founder said that the only benefit of the new customs clearang regime is that it has increased revenue for the government and reduced unemployment.
But in a swift reaction, the ANLCA President said that the introduction of PAAR has significantly eased the clearance of cargo from the ports.
He said that he was “baffled” by Aniebonam’s sudden change over the customs initiative which he once advocated for.
“There must be serious reasons other than individual interests for anybody to clamour for the cancellation of PAAR. But like he said, that is his opinion and the opinion of his organisation. They are speaking for themselves. As far as ANLCA is concerned PAAR has improved tremendously; it has eased the clearance of cargo so we are not in the same boat at all,” Shittu told SHIPS& PORTS DAILY in his office.
He said that although PAAR experienced some hiccups during its early stage of implementation, it has improved tremendously.
The ANLCA President said that the emergency system of assessment introduced by Customs was to act as a safety net for government’s revenue pending the issuance of PAAR.
“In doing that, the federal government makes sure, through Customs, that containers are cleared quickly. After carrying out self assessment/physical examination, they ask you to pay something. When the PAAR comes, you either would have paid less or you would have paid more. For those who have paid less they should pay the difference and those who have paid more what would be their challenge which ANLCA is following up would be the ease of recovering over payments,” he said.