Clearing agents operating at the Apapa Area Command of the Nigeria Customs Service have expressed dissatisfaction over Custom’s query of the Pre-Arrival Assessment Report (PAAR) documents issued by the Service.
Speaking at a stakeholder’s forum organised by the command on Wednesday, the Chairman, Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) Apapa chapter, Mr. Olumide Fakanlu, described the development as an insult to the importing public.
Fakanlu, who condemned the activities of operatives of the Federal Operation Unit interception of containers that have been duly cleared from the port, said the situation had continued to constitute delay and additional expenses for the concerned agents.
Fakanlu, though, acknowledged that there had been an improvement in the issuance of PAAR now compared to when the customs took over from the Service Providers, said all customs activities in the clearing process should be streamlined in order to facilitate trade.
“It is a welcome development that we have an improvement on the PAAR, but we would like the Controller to help us talk to the customs headquarters that all customs activities like the Federal Operation Unit (FOU) stopping containers that have been cleared from the terminal on the road and asking about value is not right.
“It is an insult to the particular customs command that released the cargo and to the importing public in general,” he said.
Customs Area Controller of the command, Comptroller Charles Edike, said Customs will not query PAAR if importers and agents are honest in their declarations.
According to him, if agents give the headquarters wrong description, they will also give them wrong classification, hence the need for the query.
“If you are straight forward, nobody has the right to query your PAAR,n but if you are not straight forward, officers will ask you questions. Headquarters deal with documentation, but here in port, we do examination on the container to see if what you stated is in the container is actually what is there. So if we discover that there is discrepancy, we will have no option than to query it”, he said.
“In as much as we want to facilitate trade, we won’t let you go until you pay to the government everything you are supposed to pay. So the agent too can help in facilitating trade by doing the right thing at the right time.
“If you have done the proper thing and any FOU stops your container on the way, you can look at them eye ball to eye ball and tell them to do their worst. Thereafter you can make a report that you were stopped by them and nothing incriminating was found in your container. And I promise you, the customs management will deal with such officer,” he said.