The Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) has served ample notice that it is very much ready to run destination inspection of the nation’s imports from June 30, 2013.
From that day, destination inspection service providers are expected to hand over the segments of the scheme which they presently oversee, leaving the NCS to operate the regime solely.
It would be recalled that the Federal Government had shifted from the earlier hand over date of December 31, 2013, to June 30, 2013, ostensibly to give the Customs enough time to have enough capacity.
However, Comptroller-General of Customs Dikko Inde Abdullahi, has indicated that the Service is firmly ready to execute its brief of trade facilitation.
Speaking through Deputy Comptroller-General of Customs Garba Markafi when the Maritime Reporters’ Association of Nigeria (MARAN) paid him a courtesy visit last Thursday at Customs House, Abuja, affirmed that the Service’s automation project was at high par.
The computerisation project of the NCS, according to the Customs chief, has so advanced to the level that cargo clearance documentation could be effected in “six hours”, because “you don’t need to have contact with any Customs officer before you clear your goods.”
He said: “I hope MARAN has details of our PAAR (Pre-arrival Assessment Report), which is fully computerised. Apart from the ASYCUDA (Automated System of Customs Data), we have the PAAR at the (Customs) Ruling Centre. We are online, so nobody needs to have a physical contact with any Customs officer before he or she clears the goods.
“Importers can clear their cargoes directly in their offices, provided the declaration is genuine. When you access the system, it will tell you whether you need Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON) attention or National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) attention or the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) attention.
“If everything has been done correctly, I mean your declarations are genuine, the importer will just receive an SMS (short message service) from Customs to come and pick his cargo. Everything is on ground for the eventual take-over from the destination inspection companies in July.”
Reiterating the Service’s desire to maintain a cordial relationship MARAN, the Customs chiefaffirmed the partnership between the NCS and MARAN.
“MARAN and the Nigeria Custom Service are partners in progress,” he said.
The Customs chief told his guests: “You are the image makers. We want you to sell us out to the public, that Customs has come off age. Without you, no matter how much we beat our drums, it will not have the same effect, compared to you selling us out to the world. Your single N10 pen can sell out to million dollars in revenue.”
The MARAN delegation informed the Customs chief that “the umbrella body for all journalists reporting the maritime sector in Nigeria. Journalists from both the print and the electronic media are represented in MARAN.” The Customs leadership was eulogised for repositioning the Service, noting that “the last three years of your administration has been unsurpassed in terms of achievement in the entire history of the NCS.
“Everybody talks about Customs revenue generation, which your administration is trying very hard to always meet. People tend to forget about your achievement in the area of staff welfare. Your administration has changed the psyche of customs’ officers and a lot of them now have pride in what they do and there is now respect for the institution.”