There is what is called Integrated Revenue Board in Ghana, South Africa and everywhere in the world. What this means is that the revenue collection of VAT, inland revenue and Customs is going to be collected by a board. This is what Ghana, Zambia, South Africa is doing. What the Nigeria Customs Service is proposing in their sponsored bill (Customs Service Bill) is never done anywhere in the world. So, what the Federal Government is saying is that they are trying to establish what is called Integrated Revenue Board which means all the agencies are going to be under one umbrella. It is only in Nigeria that is having something of such. Customs are not the owner of the bill, the bill is owned by Federal Government and all the stakeholders. It is a trade bill. Nigerians don’t understand what the bill stands for. The Customs and Excise Management Act is a convention and 98% of what is in the Act is a convention. That means the letter that has been signed with other countries and what they have proposed is a domestic law, which is contrary to the convention. So the bill cannot pass, it has no face, which is the truth.
Yes because it is responsible for high rate of inflation in the country. They are meant to be more concerned with facilitation of trade but their main duty now is meeting financial targets set by government, and this is destroying the nation’s economy. The government gives target to Customs which they have to meet up with monthly and this is affecting the country at large because the end users pay for all the cost arising from the pressure on Customs. The Federal Government should deemphasize revenue generation. If government is not putting pressure on Customs, they will not overstretch importers. Before now by last year duty freight from China to Nigeria was less than three million but today it is about twelve thousand dollars. My area of concern is how to bring down inflation. The government should do something. They should stop giving Customs target. This is not done in any part of the world. Customs is only to facilitate trade. This is why we are members of the World Trade Organisation.
The Nigeria Customs Service has helped in the economy of the country. Stripping Customs of revenue collection will be a big mistake because they have played major part in Nigeria apart from the collection gotten from oil. I am not trying to blow their trumpet but I know they are well stabilised and they are making much money for the country.
There is a need to unify revenue collection to enable Customs to concentrate on its responsibility of trade facilitation. The single most important function of the Customs Service anywhere in the world is trade facilitation. Revenue collection is the secondary function of Customs all over the world. Revenue collection by Customs is a distraction. The reason is that the main function of the Nigeria Customs Service is trade facilitation. But the trade facilitation has been pushed to the background because of the focus on revenue collection. If we want to go that far in this country, and achieve that best practice, our submission would be to move revenue to the Federal Inland Revenue Service or other agencies so that Customs Service can really focus on trade facilitation function.
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