Custom Agents: Shipping Firms Violating FG’s Ease of Doing Business Directive

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Eromosele Abiodun

Customs agents in the country have called on the federal government to urgently check the unlawful activities of shipping companies and terminal operators whose actions they said hinder imports and exports and violate the ease of doing business directives issued by the government.

In a petition addressed to Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, the customs agents alleged that the shipping companies and terminal operators’ charges on storage contravene Sections 20, 31 and 97 of the Customs and Excise Management Act that limit the days for rent charges and conferred authority to Nigeria Custom to charge rent after specific days by the board.

The agents in the petition signed by National President of the National Council of Managing Directors of Licensed Customs Agents (NCMDLCA), Lucky Amiwero stated that duplication of charges such as terminal delivery charges/ terminal handling charges, deposit repayment delays and process procedure that lack regulation of the economic interest in the port.

They stressed that there is the need for the federal government to intervene to address the cost of doing business by a total review of the procedure, process and cost in the ease of doing business.

The Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council (PBBEC), they added, should urgently address the following short falls, which is militating against our import and export trade that resulted to massive diversion of goods to neighbouring ports.

Also, the agents called on the federal government to use part of the seven per cent port development levy for the development of port access roads, trailer parks.

According to Amiwero, “The condition of the Tincan Island Port Axis of Apapa Oshodi express road leading to the ports is a death trap, big potholes and gridlocks resulting in loss of lives and continued destruction of loaded goods that always fall on cars, trailers and sometime persons.

“It is a complete setback to trading across borders (TAB) for ease of doing business on trucks that spend weeks to access and exit the ports which result to delay and rejection on most of the fragile export products in international market and high cost in import clearance.

“The Nigeria Ports Authority (NPA) is no more in port operation, the percentage collected from the seven per cent Port Development Levy should be used for the development of the trailer parks and port access roads.”

On the increase of revenue collection on the recovery of short levied duties on discrepant cargo as provided under Section 142 of Customs and Excise Management Act, he said: “The discrepant cargo, as covered under Section 142 of the Customs and Excise Management Act and the Import guideline paragraph J are non contraband goods with discrepancy, which is allowable for treatment and issued with demand notice (DN) Section 142-(2).

“Recovery of Duties states: Where any duty has been short levied or erroneously repaid, then the person who should have paid the amount short levied or to whom the repayment, has erroneously been made, shall on demand by the proper officer, pay the amount short levied or repay the amount erroneously repaid as the case may be. Any such amount may be recovered as if it were duty to which the goods in relation to which the amount was so short levied or erroneously repaid were liable.”

Amiwero also called on the government to address multiple checks and delays of clearance by Nigeria Customs Service.

He said: “The process of clearance is associated with multiple interventions of various alerts headquarters Abuja, CIU, Valuation Gate etc, that takes days and increase the cost and time in contravention of WCO Kyoto convention on simplification and harmonization of Customs procedures.

“The Customs procedure should comply with WCO Kyoto convention and (FAL) Convention of (IMO) for Minimisation, harmonisation and simplification of Customs procedure with regards to various checks after release from the Port, (FOU), CG Squad in line with international best practice of One-Stop-Shop process.”