Controller, Apapa Area command of the Nigeria Customs Service, Comptroller Charles Edike has decried the rate at which false declarations has robbed many importers of the benefits of the Pre-Arrival Assessment Report (PAAR) scheme.
Edike who spoke to reporters recently on the activities of the command described the PAAR scheme as one instrument that has contributed to customs modernization; ranking it high among its peers but which some importers have failed to maximally utilise.
He said that a major challenge confronting the regime was lack of compliance with trade rules and regulations by importers and their agents and the reason why the PAAR document is sometimes queried by officers.
“I must say PAAR is on auto pilot. It will however succeed if importers abide by the rules and regulations. PAAR means Pre-Arrival Assessment Report. Not post-arrival. But what some agents and importers do is that they would have gotten to our waters, for some, the containers would have discharged from the vessel, some would have even stayed there for a while before they begin to go to the bank to pursue Form M and then get into tension. By that time, there’s already demurrage on the container, and they start running helter-skelter. And they would have lost the advantage that PAAR presents. Instead of pre-arrival, it is post-arrival they will be doing.
“If what you declared in your SGD, in your Form M, in your PAAR is the same as what is in the container, it will be released to you immediately. But if there are discrepancies, between what you declared and what is in the container, it means you will be starting afresh again because we will examine it. Then, before you process it and tell the importer, before the importer processes the difference, and gives money to go and pay, days would have gone. That is good time wasted for nothing plus demurrage.
“PAAR is issued by Customs. Normally, we are not supposed to query it but when there’s a difference between what you declared and what is in the container on the ground, we will query it. If what you declared is the same in your PAAR, everything – quantity, content, size, the names are all the same, fine, you go with your consignment,” he said.
Edike however noted that for honest importers, the PAAR scheme has assisted in reducing costs and time of cargo clearance at the port.
“For transparent agents, PAAR will reduce the cost of doing business in our ports. If importers and agents are transparent and straight forward, if they stop the idea of cutting corners, then, we will save time and money,” he said.
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