Single Window Facility to Fast-track Cargo Clearance

14 Dec 2012

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Inde Dikko Abdullahi , Customs boss

John Iwori

The Federal Government is set to realise the nation’s dreams of fast-tracking cargo clearance at the nation’s seaports, airports and international borders, THISDAY has learnt.

This move emerged at the just-concluded workshop on the Nigerian Single Window (NSW) project, which took place in Lagos, organised by the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS).
This is coming on the heels of the long time it takes to clear goods in the nation’s seaports, which remains one of the highest in the world.

The NSW, a facility that would allow parties involved in trade and transport ventures to lodge standardised information and documents with only a single entry point to fulfill all their import, export, and transit-related regulatory requirements, is expected to save time hitherto spent on cumbersome documentation processes.

One of the key resource persons on the workshop, Ghanaian-born Valentino Mintah, told journalists that research has shown that a major reason behind delayed clearance regime in Africa was largely as a result of the presently complex mode of relevant information/ data exchange between stakeholders and government agencies; hence the need to adopt this United Nations endorsed model by Africa, especially, Nigeria.

“If information is electronic, then individual data elements should only be submitted once” she highlighted, aligning herself to the World Customs Organisation (WCO) description of the Single Window as “a cross border, intelligent facility that allows parties involved in trade and transport to lodge standardised information electronically, via a single entry point, to fulfill all import, export and transit-related regulatory requirements.

“The current international trade environment involves complex international trade processes with disparate systems”, she said.

Mintah stressed that the optimum goal of the current two-day Single Window was to create an integrated workspace of data and business processes for all trade related activities and stakeholders, in an aim of creating a customer-centric service environment.

She posited that while the workshop would provide direct opportunity for stakeholders to directly make their inputs, it may in addition, also enable participants develop local indices as key performance indicators (KPIs) for the measurement of success and achievements of the NSW programme as mapped out, under the Trading Across Borders Rankings.

“The World Bank Trading Across Borders Index measures and ranks countries on the basis of time, cost, number of processes and documents required for import and export”, she stated further.
She also emphasised the need for Nigeria as a natural continental leader to champion the role of evolving a robust integrated, holistic, multi-phased approach that would be essential towards realising the shared values of all stakeholders, by focusing on the 4Ps, which she simplified as people, processes, platform and policy.

THISDAY had reported that Mintah made a presentation on the subject of Single Window at the recent Comptroller General of Customs (CGC) Conference in Katsina and received a loud ovation. This was seen as an indication of its wide acceptance by stakeholders in the maritime sector of the economy.

Tags: Business, Cargo Clearance, Featured, Nigeria, Window Facility

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