Barely a month after the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, accused the Nigerian Customs Service (NCS) of frustrating the National Single Window (NSW), the Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC) has alleged that the NCS of frustrating the federal government effort to boost the nation’s export drive.
Speaking at a stakeholders meeting held at the Apapa Command of the NCS, Assistant Director of Compliance, Monitoring and Enforcement, Mrs. Ifeora Celibe said Apapa customs agent are importing goods and frustrating exporters who have little or nothing to offer.
According to her, “the customs do everything to frustrate exporters. They are only interested in imports. The federal government is making effort to diversify the economy. The government is doing everything to encourage export to conserve foreign reserve. But the NCS is only interested in imported goods for obvious reasons.”
She therefore appealed to the federal government to reinstate the Export Expansion Grant (EEG) that was suspended by the previous administration.
The Council’s Director also promised to assist the Customs to ensure that export trade gets priority treatment.
Responding to the allegation, the Customs Area Comptroller of Apapa, Area one Command, Mr. Willy Egbudin said that the Customs has always done its best to facilitate export trade.
Egbudin said that because of the command’s attachment to export trade, a Deputy Comptroller was put in charge of the export seat in Apapa.
“We are doing our best to encourage export. But we have to do our job effectively. Some of these exporters do a lot of things that smears this country’s name. Recently, we a container and we found hard drugs under the products they were exporting to South Africa. This is one of the many challenges that we face,” he said.
Amaechi, had during the inauguration of the Command, Control, Communications and Intelligence System, a marine operation and surveillance centre, at the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) in Lagos, accused the NCS of frustrating the National Single Window.
The NSW is a platform meant to integrate all agencies involved in the clearance of cargoes at the ports with view to ease the inspection calculation and payment of all import duties, levies and other charges on line.
Speaking to representatives of the Controller General of the NCS, he said: “Please the Comptroller General of Customs has to agree and the Customs, need to be connected to the NSW to make our ports more effective. All we are doing now is manual; it will not last for long.
“Very soon Nigerians will protest against the seaports. People are already importing through Benin Republic. Everyone has a single window. Niger, who used to import things through Nigeria, is doing so through another country. This is because we are charging both official and unofficial charges. Goods in Nigeria are too expensive,” he said.
NSW is a cross-government website for trade facilitation. It offers a single portal for trade actors, both Nigerian and international business community to access a full range of resources and standardised services from different Nigerian government agencies.
Expressing his pleasure at the development of Nigeria’s port operational system, Amaechi noted that the development of the CCCIS facility began in 2013.
He said the aim was to provide business intelligence for the movement of vessels and cargoes, as well as providing secured communications within our waterways.
“This is one of the positive responses to the dynamics of port modernisation. The infrastructure comprises of long and short range video surveillance monitoring systems which are in line with the International Maritime Organisation Conventions for the safety of life at sea. The development and installation of the CCCIS by the NPA will in no small way promote the rating of our ports by the IMO,” Amaechi added.