The Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) has identified dishonest attitude of importers who under-declare their imports in a bid to short change the government as one of the reasons why the Pre-Arrival Assessment Report (PAAR) is not a final document for clearance of goods at the port.
The Service also stated that lack of technical know- how of some officers is another a contributing factor.
Recently, there have been controversies among clearing agents and freight forwarders on whether PAAR is a final or advisory document required for customs clearance of goods at the ports.
According to the agents, given the current trend of incessant querying of PAAR by officers, PAAR cannot be a final document as claimed by the Customs Comptroller General of the NCS, Alhaji Dikko Inde Abdullahi, when it was conceptualised and introduced in December 2013.
The agents argue that since the PAAR document emanates from Customs, it ought to be a final document unlike the Risk Assessment Report (RAR) that was issued and generated by the former service providers as an advisory document to NCS.
Speaking with SHIPS & PORTS DAILY last weekend, Customs spokesman, Wale Adeniyi explained that PAAR ought to be a final document but due to errors which according to him could emanate from an officer or an importer, it has become an advisory document.
He said that just as importers have the right to appeal when they feel an item has been overvalued so also do officers have the right to query PAAR.
“How final is the PAAR document if an importer can come back and tell us he has been over-valued and we listen to him? It becomes semi-final because it means they now have to adjust it.
“We have also seen instances where officers look at PAAR and feel that based on physical examination, the figures quoted were not accurate and they would do amendment. It is both ways, people should not just talk about one way because that is the angle with which they want to look at PAAR. I believe that it is a final document but there are times that even in these final documents there are errors.
“On the basis of evidence from the importer, there could be amendment in PAAR. It could happen from an officer taking initiative, it could also happen from an importer taking initiative,” Adeniyi stated.
Also speaking, Public Relation Officers of the Tin Can Island Port Command, Chris Osunkwo said PAAR is advisory because importers and their agents have failed to embrace honest declaration.
He said officers at the PAAR ruling center only work on facts presented by the importer on his document but noted that not all facts presented by the importers are accurate.
“Practically PAAR is advisory because the officers that are churning out this PAAR rely on the document submitted by the applicant. Destination Inspection is all about seeing and assessing. If for instance, you say you imported techno phones and down here the officer opens the container and sees Samsung phones, has PAAR become advisory or sacrosanct?
“PAAR is meant for integrity driven business climes not for business climes like ours where somebody will tell you he has calculators but when you open the container you find air conditioners, would you say PAAR is sacrosanct, meaning you don’t have to query it?” he queried.