By Godfrey Bivbere
ACTIVITIES of officers and men of the Nigeria Customs Service, NCS, to the nation’s port is contributing to the rising inflation in the country.
Some stakeholders who spoke to Vanguard Maritime Report on the issue said the multiple examinations and valuations by NCS drives up the cost of imported goods which is passed on to the consumers.
Deputy National President of the National Council of Managing Directors of Licensed Customs Agents, NCMDLCA, Adeniyi Ajayi, said that the Customs have multiple units that duplicates functions for them to meet the revenue target set by the government.
In his words, “This action infringes on trade facilitation procedure. Customs must harmonise their department so that all cargoes for examination at any terminal must be done holistically and come out with a robust and appropriate duty to be paid; this will save time and cost.
“All over the world, businessmen are into business to make profit and they will do whatever it takes to maximise their profits.
“This brings me back to what I said earlier that Customs needs to commence a holistic examination of consignments. They do not even have scanners, to even detect whatever that is coming into the country.
“They also undermine the interest of the importers and the nation; if they have an interest of the nation at heart; they should do what is right.
“Importers can under-declare; if they see such thing, they can re-examine and give the importer the appropriate duty to be paid as stipulated by the Customs and Exercise Management Act, CEMA. But they see such infractions and turn the other way when money exchange hands, and when the cargo gets out it is again subjected to the same thing, paying another duty; Nigeria is paying for it. Everyone will suffer for it, this is part of the reasons we have hyper-inflation because Nigeria is an import-dependent nation,” he noted. Similarly, National Publicity Secretary of the Association of Nigeria Licensed Customs Agents, ANLCA, Joe Sanni, also stressed the need for Customs operations to be streamlined as it is one of the reasons why the cost of clearing of goods at the ports is high.
Sanni further explained that the high cost of clearing consignments at the port is responsible for importers moving to neighbouring ports before the border closure.
He noted that untill the issue is addressed, efforts by importers and their agents to cut corners will continue even if the borders remain closed.