Customs Area Controller, Apapa Area Command of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Comptroller Willy Egbudin has charged clearing agents, importers as well Customs officers to demonstrate high level of integrity and discipline in the cargo clearance process to improve on the command’s revenue generation.
Egbudin, who gave the charge yesterday during the command’s stakeholders’ meeting, said the command generated N61.7billion in the first quarter of this year as against N74.71billion collected in the corresponding period of 2015, representing 21% drop in revenue.
He said despite the economic downturn, which has affected volume of imports into the country, the command’s revenue generation could still be maximized from the few imports coming in if importers, agents and Customs operatives embrace transparency and make integrity their watchword.
“Due to the general economy down turn, vessels don’t come as they use to come. Bulk cargoes are not coming because they have been denied access to foreign exchange.
“Despite that, some consignments are still coming in so we need to look inward to make do with the little ones we have and fashion out a way of improving the revenue of the command.
“Discipline and integrity will take us to a very high level of ensuring that we collect the adequate revenue that is expected of us. It is not only on the side of Customs but also among agents and importers and all stakeholders.
“We must ensure that we allow our integrity to be intact and do what is right in order for us to improve the revenue,” he said.
The Customs boss said the collective effort of all stakeholders is required to move the non-oil sector forward especially now that the government has shifted attention from oil revenue.
He advised agents to always comply with trade regulations and make honest declaration noting that under declaration or concealment would only amount to delay in clearing their consignment.
Some of the clearing agents who spoke at the meeting however advised Customs management to reduce the pressure on commands to generate revenue as many importers have closed shop due to government policy on foreign exchange.
One of them, Obi Azodo said, “I know some importers that import 300 containers every month but now they are barely importing 10. If such importer is contributing in a month N200 million as duty, the duty has practically reduced to nothing.
“For you to import you must have access to forex and if you go to Central Bank and if they don’t give, you don’t have any choice. Some of us have even resorted to Bureau de Change.
“How can the revenue not be low when there is no forex to import? The major cause for the low revenue is that there is no forex to import these goods,” he said.
On his part, Vice President, Shippers Association of Lagos State, Nicodemus Odolo said Customs would generate more revenue if new research is conducted on how to improve on quick clearance of cargoes.
“Customs must research how they can get the revenue in and one of the things is fast clearance of goods.
“Most of cargoes are being diverted to other countries but here government is interested in getting money.
“One area you have to research into is how to make cargo clearance faster. When you are fast more cargo will come to your command,” he said.
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