The House of Representatives Committee on Customs has given the Nigerian Customs Service (NCS) two weeks to reduce its 18 cargo clearing stages to four.
The committee made the resolution on Tuesday, in Abuja, after an interactive session with stakeholders.
It insisted that the Comptroller General of Customs should appear in person to explain the processes.
The Chairman of the committee, Rep. Leke Abejide (SDC-Kogi) said that the process should be limited to the offices of the Comptroller Area Commander (CAC), Deputy Comptroller Revenue (DCR), Officer in Charge of Bond and then Gate.
He said that all other stages should be removed to allow for free flow of activities in the ports, describing them as avenues for illegal transactions by corrupt officers of the service.
“Once it gets to the CAC, the CAC should minute it directly to the Deputy Comptroller Revenue, from there, it goes to Officer in Charge of Bond and then to the Gate for exit.
“We have to do something about this, let us bring down these procedures to four stages; somebody is getting revenue illegally, but if we do this, we will cut away all these illegalities and the revenue goes to government,’’ he said.
The chairman said that the committee would not work on the Custom’s 2022 budget, if provisions were not made to fix all the scanners in the ports.
He said that government had invested over $420 million dollars on the scanners and the committee would not allow such investment to go down the drain.
The Deputy Comptroller, Tariff and Trade, Mrs Talatu Isah, said that there was need to investigate the matter before taking action, saying that the procedure should not be that cumbersome.
She said that the service was working hard to ensure ease of doing business in the country and security by ensuring only approved goods got into the country.
The officer said that any dealer subjected to a cumbersome procedure to clear merchandise should report to the Comptroller Area Commander.
Earlier, the acting Managing Director, Nigerian Port Authority, Mr Mohammed Bello-Koko, said that Customs had multiple units within the same port, making the process cumbersome.
“After Customs finishes 100 percent examination, just when you think it is over, you load your container, you now find another Custom checkpoint within the same port.
“In the name of Federal Strike force or something and they leave the truck there for 30 minutes to one hour causing a lot of problems.
“And when you go out again, you find another Customs person and that is why Nigeria has lost the transit cargo market; what we now have is captive cargo, even some of the captive cargo is going somewhere else because of the cumbersome way things are done,’’ he said.
Bello-Koko said that some cargoes that should have gone to Niger and other countries through Nigeria went through other countries owing to multiple Customs and police check points between the country and Niger.
The Managing Director, Inland Container Nigeria Ltd, Mr Ismail Yussuf, also said that there were too many tables through which documents were processed, before cargoes go out of the ports.
He said that it should not be more than three, if the service scanners were activated at the port and electronic clearing system deployed.
He added that because Customs often changed procedures without prior notification of stakeholders, trying to adjust to such instant changes caused delays.
Yussuf said that the poor means of transportation out of the port was another challenge, stressing the need for road reconstruction and provision of other transport options. (NAN)
Export Rejects: NEPC, other Inter-Agencies on a fact-finding mission to UK
In a bid to curb the incidences of export rejects, the Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC) is leading an Inter-Agency team to the United Kingdom (UK) as part of strategic effort to address the issue which constitute a major constraint to the growth of the non-oil export sector.
The National Food, Drug and Administration Control (NAFDAC), Nigerian Agricultural Quarantine Service (NAQS), Nigerian Customs Service (NCS), National Aviation Handling Company (NAHCO) Skypower Aviation Handling Company Limited (SAHCOL) Federal Produce inspection Service (FPIS) and Federation of Agricultural Commodities Association of Nigeria (FACAN) are among the Agencies participating on the fact-finding mission.
The Executive Director/CEO of NEPC, Dr. Ezra Yakusak who led the team lamented that these cases of rejection had resulted in stricter inspection regime on Nigerian exports in the importing countries and in some cases led to the suspension or ban of some products.
According to him “It also attracts unfavourable international media attention, gives the country a negative image as well as constitutes financial burden to the exporters who have to bear the cost of either reshipping the banned product to Nigeria or destroying the product.”
A statement by Ndubueze Okeke, the Head Cooperate Communication of the NEPC, the objective of the 5-day visit is to provide Nigerian export-regulatory and facilitating agencies the opportunity of observing the processes of agricultural commodities import procedures and interface with Port Health and Food Import Regulatory Agencies at the Border Control Points (BCPs) in the UK.
Other areas to be visited by the team are, Southampton Port (the second busiest port in UK), Spitafield Market – a one-stop aggregation and distribution centre for imported food in the UK as well as the Food Standards Agency (FDA), the parliament among others.
The team also held an interactive session with some Nigerian food importers in UK as part of effort to address the challenges encountered in importing food items from Nigeria to UK. It will be recalled that the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment (FMITI) Otunba Niyi Adebayo recently inaugurated a Technical Committee to address the incidences of export rejects with view to proffer solutions to the problem.
SON Commends FAO, NCC on review of food standards
The Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON) has commended the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) and the National Codex Committee (NCC) for critical role played in the elaboration of food Standards at the International level especially at the various committees of the Codex Alimentarius Commission where Standards are adopted at the National level.
The Director General, Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON) Mallam Farouk Salim disclosed on Thursday while speaking at the awareness and advocacy workshop organized by the National Codex Committee (NCC) in collaboration with the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations (UN).
for high level policy and decision makers and public presentation of the 4th Edition of the revised National Codex Committee Procedural Manual in Abuja said the review was apt in order to keep abreast with the growth of Codex activities.
Represented by his Chief of Staff, Prof. Olobayo Kunle, SON Director General said NCC has also contributed to the review of the Food safety policy and Food safety Bill in Nigeria.
“The National Codex Committee Procedural Manual was first prepared in line with CAC procedural manual published in 2002, with further revisions in 2007 and 2012 to guide the activities and improve functions of all the stakeholders involved for effective operations.
“The review of the NCC Procedural Manual was necessary to keep abreast with the growth of Codex activities over time, incorporate major changes, improve and strengthen Codex structure in Nigeria
“The National Codex Committee (NCC) Nigeria successfully applied for the Codex Trust Fund (CTF) 2 support to build strong, solid and sustainable national capacity to engage in Codex activities through the organization of annual awareness and advocacy workshops with political decision-makers, targeted competent authorities and other stakeholders to disseminate more information on Codex.
“The overall objective of the activity is to sensitize public decision-makers and competent authorities on the need to engage more in the national codex and to regularly provide all the support to increase its actions in favour of food safety at national level” he said.
The Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) Representative to Nigeria, Fred Kafeero said since the inception of CAC, FAO has worked with World Health Organisation in the development of international food standards, guidelines, and codes of practices to protect the health of consumers and ensure fair trade practices in the food trade using the principles of risk analysis and scientific advice provided by joint FAO/WHO expert bodies and consultations.
Represented by the FAO Assistant Representative Administration, David Fehintola said its country office in Nigeria with support from the regional office for Africa has continued to partner the Government and the National Codex Committee towards creating effective and efficient policies and strategies to eliminate hunger, food insecurity and malnutrition in the country.
He said FAO believe that ensuring the supply of safe, quality and nutritious foods is as important as ensuring the availability of foods and food standardization as “Poor quality foods do not ensure food security” he said.
The FAO Representative to Nigeria said the agency has been supporting the National Codex Committee (NCC) in Nigeria, which has members from all the MDAs and the Private sector through the execution of the Codex Trust Fund 2 activities with a focus on the implementation of the Codex Strategic Plan 2020-2025.
“We, at FAO believe that it is vital that the NCC commits itself to the core values of the Codex Alimentarius Commission (CAC) in its Inclusiveness, Collaboration, Consensus Building and Transparency in all its work.
“FAO in its support through the CTF2 project endeavors to ensure the participation of all Codex members in the country in standard setting process to ensure these core values are met.
“A lot has been achieved this year in terms of capacity building of codex members, advocacy, sensitization and public awareness as well as in the review, finalization and dissemination of the NCC procedural manual” he said.
Export4Survival: NEPC partners NOA to drive campaign in 36 States
As part of strategic collaboration to promote the export of Made-in-Nigerian products and thereby increase foreign exchange earnings for the country, the Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC) has team up with the National Orientation Agency (NOA) to create awareness for the Export4Survival campaign in 36 states of the federation.
The Executive Director of NEPC, Dr Ezra Yakusak while on a working visit to the NOA in Abuja, said the visit was borne out of the need to seek strategic collaboration with relevant government Ministries Departments and Agencies (MDAs) in a bid to rejuvenate the nation’s fragile economy in the wake of dwindling revenue from crude oil.
In a statement by Ndubueze Okeko, Head, Corporate Communications of the NEPC, Dr Yakusak, pointed out that the #Export4Survival is a patriotic call on all Nigerians to realize the urgency of engaging in non-oil export trade as a viable means of economic growth, poverty alleviation, industrial development and boosting our foreign exchange earnings.
“We must export our goods and services or perish. That is the only way the country could create jobs, create wealth and ensure a sustainable economy that guarantees prosperity for all Nigerians”, he added.
Responding, the NOA Director General, Dr. Garba Abari commended the NEPC for initiating the Export4Survival campaign as part of strategic initiative to increase the awareness of opportunities in the sector and benefits of exporting Nigerian goods and services to the overall growth of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
With 813 offices spread across the country, Dr. Abari said the NOA was strategically positioned to help the Council drive the campaign to the 36 states of the federation as well as the 774 local governments areas.
“Export4Survival is indeed strategic in finding a solution to the nation’s fragile economy. It is the only way to regain the value of the Naira as it will create wealth and job opportunities for all Nigerians”, he noted.
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