The Tin Can Island Port chapter of the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) has accused bank officials of demanding for bribes from importers and clearing agents to facilitate documentation required for obtaining the pre-arrival assessment report (PAAR).
PAAR is a mandatory document issued by the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) for the release of imported goods at the port.
Vice Chairman of the chapter, Barr. Ada Akpunonu, said bank officials arm-twist importers and agents to collect between N5,000 and N10,000 under the guise of quick transmission of a PAAR document to Customs headquarters for further processing.
She said: “From the little investigation we have been able to carry out, we found out that some bank officials collect money from importers and agents to facilitate the transmission of PAAR. Some of the banks, we don’t need to mention their names right now because we are still investigating, collect between five and ten thousand naira to transmit a PAAR document.
Sometimes some of them deliberately delay the transmission of some of the documents of the people who refuse to give them this kickback.”
Akpunonu said the banks created the artificial delays experienced in the issuance of PAAR by the NCS.
She called on the management of commercial banks to call their officials to order “especially those that man their PAAR seats”.
She also urged banks to train their trade desk staff on the processes of the new customs clearance document.
“Some of them have not been given the necessary training because when you go (to the banks) some will begin to ask you for unnecessary documents. Some people went to put in their document and they were asking them the original bill of lading because they don’t understand that this is pre-arrival assessment regime. They don’t know.
“I know Customs have been training stakeholders, creating awareness but it appears that some of them are not even ready to embrace the training. I know we invite them to most of the meetings we hold here but you see only very few of them. Customs will always come to keep us abreast with the process of this PAAR regime but most of these banks don’t attend,” she stated.