The Comptroller-General of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) Alhaji Abdulahi Dikko Inde, has called for collaboration between the Service and stakeholders in the maritime sector, especially Customs agents and freight forwarders to address some of the challenges still being experienced with the Pre -Arrival Assessment Report (PAAR).
Speaking on the sidelines of the 60th anniversary and official commissioning of the permanent National Secretariat of the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agent (ANLCA) last weekend, Dikko said that rather than apportion blames, stakeholders should come together to harmoniously find a lasting solution to the identified challenges.
National President of ANLCA, Prince Olayiwola Shittu, had in his opening address at the commissioning ceremony asked the Customs CG to set up a committee involving very responsible members of his association to look into the complaints of agents concerning the PAAR.
Shittu said: “I will fail if I don’t tell you about the yearnings of our people. You have tried and your name will be in the history books for life. You may be in Abuja, but don’t know everything that is happening on the field; our people are crying. I know we are here to celebrate, but please, help us address the issue of PAAR.
“PAAR is the best ever existent clearing document established by any Customs authority all over the world, and this was also confirmed in South Korea. We decided to embrace PAAR because it is a facilitator and World Customs brokers who we are members, recognised PAAR as a sample for other countries.
“But, some Customs officers and agents may be a stumbling block and I believe it is not your fault that you brought something good to the country,” Shittu said.
The Customs boss noted that some of the hiccups currently being experienced with PAAR which commenced 9 months ago could not be completely ruled out as according to him, the beginning of every endeavor will always be met with challenges.
He said it was not in the interest of the service providers to hand over the reign of Destination Inspection to the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) as they abandoned some unfinished Risk Assessment Report (RAR) documents to the Service.
He said: “PAAR is Nigeria’s creation; it is Customs creation and it is just nine months. As human beings you should know that every beginning is difficult and we must expect teething problems from the beginning. Don’t forget that people who left did not want to leave so they will leave behind a lot of problems, which will cause problems between me and you. So I think it is better we sit down and look at it intelligently and bring about the solving of that problem harmoniously.”
He said service providers will no longer perform Customs job or collect duty on its behalf, hence the need to critically look at addressing the problem rather than the blame game.
“Let me assure you that even if I leave the Comptroller-General position, no other agency will come back and collect duty on behalf of the NCS, so it is better while we are perfecting whatever is the problem, let us look at it and solve it between ourselves,” Dikko said.