By Lucy Ogalue
The Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) said Nigeria’s biggest problem in trade facilitation and processing was non-compliance by stakeholders.
Col. Hameed Ali (rtd.) disclosed this when he received the Executive Secretary, Nigeria Shippers’ Council (NSC), Mr Hassan Bello in his office on Tuesday in Abuja.
He said the NCS was ready to collaborate with the NSC to sensitise stakeholders on the importance of compliance which had become Nigeria’s biggest problem in terms of trade.
He said “We need to sensitise our stakeholders on the importance of compliance. We have the habit of wanting to short change the government and the system.
“Our mentality on compliance is zero. So, a discuss on compliance will go a long way and we look forward to cooperating with you (NSC), to ensure that forum is organised to get our people aware.
“We must find a model for enforcing compliance, there must be sanctions, I think that is the only way to ensure compliance.’’
Ali said the service was working towards a platform known as E-Customs that would ensure a paperless process in the entire business of the NCS.
He said in a recent meeting with Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, Chairman of the Single Window Project, it was agreed that the E-Custom would be the main platform for the single window.
He said “The idea is that, it will be a warehouse where everybody keys into for information and for transacting business in Nigeria.
“What is required for all other agencies including the Shippers Council is to develop their own technological platform and then key into the E-customs platform.
“All those already in our platform will be integrated into this, but it will require a lot of technology, it will require robust platforms for agencies to key into that system and use it successfully.”
On the MoU between the NCS and the NSC, Ali said it would be fast tracked and looked into speedily adding that NCS would up their game to ensure every container being transported in the country was duly protected.
He added that removing of empty containers at the ports was a major challenge, adding that sanctions would be made to ensure all containers brought into the country was taking out accordingly.
He said Terminal Operators were saddled with the responsibility of moving overtime containers to the warehouse in Ikorodu but they usually defaulted in their duty.
He said the default had contributed to congestion at the ports, while calling on the NSC to intervene to ensure the ports were decongested.
“I hope you can help us with that so that we can de-congest the ports.
“More so, with the border closure, the de-congestion will enable us see more containers coming into the ports rather than going to other ports,” Ali said.
Earlier, the Executive Secretary of NSC called for a single window to ensure trade facilitation in the country.
He said the issue of non-compliance was a challenge and the council has a mandate of tackling it.
He said there was the need to educate stakeholders on the need for compliance and time taken to exit cargoes at the port needed to be adjusted.
Bello said the issue of lack of scanners should be tackled to ensure quick exit of cargoes at the ports.
He urged for more focus on exportation of products in the country to help boost the economy.
“We have become so import dependent that we have forgotten what export is. Export is very important so that we can earn foreign exchange.
“If we get our maritime industry correct, we get our trade facilitation, then we can finance our budget without even thinking of the oil,” Bello added. (NAN)
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