Senate Repeals 58-year-old Colonial Customs Act to Enhance Efficiency

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Omololu Ogunmade in Abuja

The Senate wednesday commenced moves to repeal Customs Service Act of 1958, describing it as an obsolete and antiquated colonial law which militates against strict professionalism in the operations of Nigeria Customs Service (NCS).

Another bill seeking to develop commercial agriculture, private sector food processing companies in rural areas, add value to staple food crops, reduce post-harvest losses, reduce Nigeria’s dependency on food importation, create jobs and revive the rural economy, also passed second reading.

The first bill, tagged: ‘A Bill for an Act to Repeal the Nigerian Customs Service Management Act (Repeal and Re-enactment) 2016,’ the bill passed second reading on the floor of the Senate.
Sponsored by Senator Samuel Anyanwu (Imo East), the bill does not only seek to repeal the customs and excise laws in Nigeria, it also seeks to reform the administration and management of customs and excise.

In his lead debate, Anyanwu said the bill would bring the NCS in line with international best practices by providing for organisational structure, modern customs procedure and penalty scheme geared towards boosting government revenue.

He also said the bill, when passed into law, would improve trade and facilitate investment in business community and also protect the society against smuggling, illegal weapons, narcotics, counterfeit goods, other trade related crimes and money laundering.

Anyanwu said: “Customs administration is globally recognised as a key indicator for driving economic growth and facilitating trade between countries. The administration of Customs occurs in a complex national and international, legal, regulatory environment that influences the form and content of the national customs laws or regulations. Our dear country Nigeria has experienced many changes in government. Many regimes have come with different laws andolitical focuses.

“The Nigerian Customs Service (NCS) is unarguably one of the oldest institutions of government in this country with the history spanning as far as 1891. As one of the frontline organisations that contributes to national security and economic growth, the service functions of collection of revenue and curtailing smuggling have remained crucial to the security and development of Nigeria.

“Curiously, the enabling law of the NCS which is Customs and Excise Management Act (CEMA) has not substantially benefit from transformation experienced in the history of the nation in the areas of law reform and facets. In over 100 years of NCS, various reforms and re-organisation of committees have come and gone, emphasising only one style of operation and equipment with special focus on the paraphernalia of office and none has taken bold steps to critically look at the very archaic laws that govern the customs.

Also yesterday, a bill seeking to develop commercial agriculture, private sector food processing companies in rural areas, add value to staple food crops, reduce post-harvest losses, reduce Nigeria’s dependency on food importation, create jobs and revive the rural economy, passed second reading.

The bill’s sponsor, Senator Francis Alimikhena (Edo State), said it would accelerate development of farming communities across the country, provide price support programmes that would guarantee minimum price for agricultural produce and make the authority of buyer the last resort of selected agricultural products.

Tagged Agricultural Processing Zones Establishing Bill 2016, Alimikhena said the bill would foster employment generation through involvement of young school leavers in the outreach and processing activities of the enterprises operating within the zones.
He also said the bill would facilitate agro-processing environment that would be used to attract private sector investment into the local production and consequently boost the rural economy.