The Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) and the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) have achieved a linkage for uniform manifest to improve revenue collection and trade facilitation. This trade linkage was developed by Webb Fountain, an Information Communication Technology (ICT) firm charged with the task of creating templates for marine activities.
The linked uniform manifest prevents the occurrence of discrepancies in manifests submitted by importers and their agents to different government agencies.
Investigations showed that several manifests on imported consignments into Nigeria submitted to Nigerian Customs are often times at variance with what was received by the NPA and FAAN.
Shipping companies are alleged to be involved in the underhand deals of doctoring manifests.
Sources at the NPA said that Webb Fontaine simulated the seamless manifest interaction between the NPA and NCS for a test period of three weeks before it went live on the fourth week. The source added that the new development will help NPA billing process, enhance transparency in the system and increase government revenue by preventing possible leakages caused by information on forged manifests. He also said that the improved uniform manifest regime will also help government generate accurate data for planning and economic purposes like knowing the number of shipping lines, number of vessels and types of cargoes coming into Nigeria.
For FAAN, airlines had always submitted hard copy manifest and airway bill which in some cases were at variance with the documentation at NCS.
The ICT company has worked out a digital certificate for the Standard Organisation of Nigeria (SON) whereby importers do not need a hard copy certificate for processing importation of SON regulated products into the country. In place of attaching photocopies of SON certificates, importers are now only required to input their SON Certificate reference number and the system will accept the entry for processing if the number is genuine as allotted to the company doing the importation.
The SON digital certificate regime also makes it impossible for any two companies to use one certificate number as the number allotted will also be attached to the Tax identification Number (TIN) of the company that applied for and got it. Attempts at using an allotted number for a different company will automatically be rejected by the system and detected as fake.
This innovation with SON has increased the number of persons coming to register for SONCAP, improved the organisation’s revenue into government coffers and curbs the incessant incidents of fake and substandard imports into Nigeria.
Confirming this development, spokesman of SON, Matthias Bassey described it as one that will achieve time and cost saving advantages ahead of the previous regime. He added that the system will bring about more transparency in the country’s business arena.
Bassey said: “It saves time and costs and its very transparent. It provides data for analysis and subsequent planning for national development and decision taking for policy makers.
“Over N20 billion will no doubt be saved yearly from these electronic innovations aimed at curbing fraud and promoting transparency in business while also ensuring a fairer deal for all consumers of regulated products imported into Nigeria”, he said.