Customs Service undertakes swift document processing system at seaports

By The Citizen
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The Nigeria Customs Services (NCS) has said it will continue to improve on its import documents processing system to speed up the clearing of goods at the seaports.

Already, it said it had automated the entire system aimed at drastically reducing points of physical contacts of importers with customs personnel, thus averting the tendency for corruption.

The Public Relations Officer, NCS, Mr. Wale Adeniyi, said since the customs took over the task of providing destination inspection service at the nation's ports from three contracted firms last December, there had been consistent improvement in the programme.

He spoke in Lagos with the Deputy Comptroller of Customs for ICT, Mr. Yusuf Bashar.

The Federal Government had in December last year directed the three contracted scanning service providers: Cotecna, SGS and Global Scan to transfer the responsibility of providing destination inspection service at the nation's ports to the customs. This took effect from December 1, 2013.

Hitherto, the three companies were in charge of approving new Form M, issuing Risk Assessment Report, RAR, scanning operations for goods imported into Nigeria.

He said over 800 documents were being processed daily under the new Pre-Arrival Assessment Report, compared to the 230 applications it started with when it took over from the former service providers in December.

Although he said the target of the NCS was to process 1,000 applications every day, the current figure, he noted had matched the maximum number of import applications collectively being handled by all the three former service providers on daily basis.

Adeniyi said although it expected the former service to fight to regain the project, it stressed that the NCS had acquired enough facilities and training to manage the system better and improve the economy of the country.

He said, 'The service providers are not going to take this lying low; it was good business for them for 30 years. There are 23 countries where the pre-shipment inspection is still being done; out of which 17 were in the West Africa. Nigeria was obviously the biggest market of the 17 countries. It was where they had about 40 per cent of their total operation.

'We don't expect them to just accept that they have lost the business; we expect them to fight back. It could be in form of sabotage or fraternising with the political class to reverse the system. But in all of these, we have the right strategies to fight them.'

Already, he said it had boosted its revenue, noting unlike the previous years, the customs did not experience any lull in its operation in the first quarter of this year.

He said, 'Our revenue has increased. It was N70bn in November; it moved to N85bn in December. I don't have the January figure; it is still being compiled.

'There is a progressive increase in revenue. It is against the trend that we used to have; generally the business is low in January; and it doesn't pick up until April-May. But the business this year was high in January and it is moving on in February.'

According to him, the NCS now has a full control of the system, adding that the valuation system is effective.