The Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) has decried the lack of transparency and false declaration of importation by some unpatriotic importers, saying that non compliance to extant laws is one of the major challenges faced by the Service in the cargo clearance process.
Speaking at a press briefing in Lagos last week, Deputy National Public Relations Officer of the NCS, Deputy Comptroller Timi Bomodi said while the Service is not in any way out to witch hunt importers and their agents, false declaration has remained the cause of delay in cargo clearance.
Bomodi said efforts by the Service to facilitate trade at the ports is being hampered by insincerity of importers in their declarations, thereby putting Customs through much stress and unnecessary waste of time.
“The major challenge the NCS has at the port has to do with compliance. Compliance is not rocket science. It is just about transparency and honesty.
“NCS officials are not witch hunters. We in no way feel that traders should be made to suffer because we are also consumers in the market. But we expect importers, exporters and agents to be honest and transparent in their activities because it makes our jobs easier.
“When you see a declaration, it is not very difficult to know within one or two minutes if there is something fishy about that declaration. So, it means that for a job that ordinarily should take five minutes to execute because the officer needs to dig deeper and deeper into finding out the truth about the job, he is spending more time and it is a waste. But if you are honest, from the beginning, the officer knows the importer has met the criteria and he’s good to go.
“For a lot of compliant traders, the amount of time they spend in the port is extremely short from when assessment is done and payment is made and goods moved to the Customs zone. The problem we have is with non-compliant traders that causes delay,” he said.
While calling on importers to embrace attitudinal change, Bomodi urged them to ensure their documentations are accurately done to get their consignment out of the port without delay.
He added that the NCS has integrated and automated 90 percent of its activities to ensure seamless trade.
“We plead with them that they should please turn a new leaf and begin to be honest with us. The more honest they are with us, the easier it will be for us to clear their consignment out of the port and the cheaper the goods will be at the market.” he said.
Meanwhile, the NCS said it has commenced the process for the deployment of the new scanning machines acquired for it by the Federal government.
Controller, Apapa Area command, Comptroller Yusuf Malanta said there are so many things that need to be put in place such as training of personnel and synchronisation of data before the scanners can be put to use.
He said, “The scanners have arrived but what we are doing now is synchronisation of data which means training of our officers. After training and retraining officers as image analysts and operators of the scanners, we are now synchronising the data of the scanners with the data of the NICIS 2 so that image can be analysed on the declaration seamlessly. So the moment a consignment enters into the port, it will be scanned and the image will be stored.”