…As PAAR processing climbs above 24,000 monthly
The Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) may have begun to fine tune its desire for the creation of a National Single Window Environment (NSWE), in a bid to entrench in the country, a more efficient trade and improved revenue regime.
The Comptroller General of Customs (CGC), Alhaji Dikko Inde Abdullahi disclosed this in Lagos, at the FCMB PAAR Presentation Forum, noting that the Service was presently processing over 24,000 Pre-Arrival Assessment Report (PAAR) documents monthly.
Advising the bank to show more love, and altruism to its customers, the CGC emphasized that so much can be achieved, if collaboration, understanding and motivation is embedded on vision; and called attention to the effectiveness of the Customs approach in the management of international trade, particularly, trade facilitation.
“You may all recall that Nigeria Customs Service took over the management of the Destination Inspection Scheme in December 2013, after over 30 years of the operation by some Service Providers.
“Since then, NCS has been responsible for processing and issuance of the Pre-Arrival Assessment Report (PAAR) which replaced the former Risk Assessment Report (RAR). It was a national mandate for which we were adequately prepared for, and a service we have diligently rendered.
“Our preparation for this take-over include: the establishment of a World Class Command and Staff College, to provide middle and high level management resource, to build skill gaps left by several years of Pre-shipment Inspection regime. Local and International training programmes to build capacity of Officer and men in core Customs Operations like HS Classification, Valuation, Rule of Origin e.t.c”, the CGC who was represented by the Customs National Image Maker, Mr. Wale Adeniyi said, stressing that the vision however never overlooked the importance of a robust welfare programme for Customs Operatives, including a 100% pay rise, House Ownership Scheme, enhanced medical services, so as to strengthen the resolve against compromise.
Highlighting a multi-prong approach, he also mentioned what amounted to an “aggressive outreach programme targeted at all levels of government to build political support for Customs take-over, and stakeholder engagement for shared ownership of the project”, alongside the establishment of an effective e-customs platform to serve as a launch pad for the take-over.
Emphasizing that the task of achieving the goals of Mr. President’s transformation agenda must be a collective one, the CGC observed that the level of the desired collaboration was yet to be attained, and called for enhanced organizations cooperation.
“Currently, we have not achieved the desired level of collaboration between and among institutions responsible for Commercial, Transport, Regulatory and Financial Procedures”, he indicated, noting that the industry players must focus on it, so as to make possible, the achievement of the National Single Window, which would cover the procedures of managing integration of all the processes.
“I am optimistic that we are already on course for this noble journey. In Customs, we have laid a strong foundation, and possess the pre-requisite technological infrastructure to drive this process.
” We equally have a rejuvenated work force, strengthened by the injection of about 5000 young, well-trained and motivated Officers, who are on the driving seat of PAAR Implementation. In these Officers, we have the required skills to take us to the next level, the right motivation to retain the talents, and the long years of Service to ensure sustainability over a period of time”, he stated further, urging the banks, the first ports of call for e-business in Nigeria, to rededicate their energies, towards reducing costs associated with International Trade Management
“The Banks and their Customers involved in the business of international trade constitute a major stakeholder in Customs Operations” observed Dikko, explaining that because financial institutions are strategically located at the heart of the Buy-Export-Import-Delivery-Chain, Provision of Credit Rating, Import/Export Finance, Execution of Payment, Insurance, Issuance of Statement; the Customs Service must always, honourably, carry them along.
“We are joint stakeholders” he posited, and as such must collectively work to quicken documentation procedures, ship turn around time, cargo dwelling times and all other relevant aspects, so as to reduce costs and make business ventures more encouraging; adding that the establishment of a State of the art Customs Ruling Centre, for processing and issuance of import documents, the development and launch of a Trade Hub (www.nigeriatradehub.gov.ng) to provide real time, round the clock online information about Nigeria’s International Trade, to all in this direction.
Dikko expressed his gladness with progress being recorded by PAAR, saying the Service had finally overcome the major challenges.
“There were apprehensions and concerns regarding the availability of infrastructural support and our strength of character to take over and sustain the Project. In the first 3 months, (December 2013 – February 2014), we were able to process the issuance of 27,523 PAARs. This represents a monthly average of just over 9,000 PAARs.
“But, rather than allow this discourage us, we intensified our efforts to address the initial hiccups. I am happy that the PAAR system is now stronger and fully stabilized. In the last three months (June – August), total PAARs issued stood at 72,898: This represents a monthly average of over 24,000 PAARs.
” Let me use this opportunity to invite our Customers to note that the major advantage of this regime over the old one is the Pre-Arrival Processing.
“Importers can access the Trade Portal and get authoritative information about their imports, take informed import decisions, order their imports, process import documents ahead of arrival and get their imports out of the Ports in good time. It is therefore in the interest of the Importers to take advantage of this to avoid delay and unnecessary cost”, he concluded, stressing that the initiative is equally in the interest of Dealer Banks who desire to grow their Customers Business to assist them in diligent documentation and timely clearance.