Stakeholders in the maritime industry yesterday identified dishonesty of clearing agents and importers, incessant server breakdown and the absence of full automation of the Nigerian trade hub to link critical stakeholders into the Nigeria Customs information Systems (NICIS) platforms as challenges that have militated against effective implementation of the Pre-Arrival Assessment Report PAAR) of the Nigerian Customs Service so far.
Speaking yesterday at a one-day workshop on the appraisal of PAAR in the last ten months at the 3rd year anniversary of Port Gist on Lagos, National President of the National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF), Eugene Nweke said connivance to cheat by importers, banks, customs agents and corrupt customs officers are snag that have been working against the PAAR regime.
He said high rate of discrepant/non-compliant importation, infrastructural challenges, regulatory requirements, uncoordinated procedures and issuance of frivolous demand notices among others, have all bedevilled the otherwise laudable scheme.
Nweke however said despite all the challenges facing PAAR, the regime had helped in no small measure to facilitate trade in the country.
He said, “I make bold to state that PAAR remain a capable modern trade facilitation tool, compliant to international best practices.”
He also called for urgent solution to some of the problems facing the scheme.
On his part, National President of the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA), Prince Olayiwola Shittu said PAAR has been a success despite the challenges it faced at its early stage.
“PAAR is regarded as the best system by the World Customs Organisation, World Bank and other countries are coming to Nigeria to learn.
“Our association has never lost confidence and faith in the efficacy of PAAR and we are happy that we are partners in the success of PAAR of today.
“Nigerians don’t like change. We like saying we should continue managing even when things are not working and that is the teething problem of PAAR.
“PAAR is working unless for those who want to shortchange the system,” Shittu stated.
The ANLCA boss also said that a PAAR document can be queried because of the dishonesty of importers who underdeclare when making declaration to Customs.
His words: “PAAR can be queried on anything because it is based on your declaration, those in the rulling Centre don’t know what was imported even you as a Custom broker don’t know and he (importer) only gave you document to do documentation for him. So, when there are discrepancies, there will be query. PAAR was working except that it was being queried on value.
“Though, I have doubt on the success of PAAR from the onset but later, I was proved wrong and later knew that PAAR has been successful.”
However, the Customs Comptroller General, Alhaji Dikko Abdulahi said transparency and honest declaration were required from agents for the success of the new clearance system.
Speaking through the Customs Area Controller, Apapa Command, Comptroller Charles Edike, the Customs boss said the training of agents is key in assisting PAAR work more effectively.