By Eromosele Abiodun

Following Nigeria’s poor showing in trading across borders on Ease of Doing Business ranking by the World Bank, Customs agents in the country have called on the federal government to urgently address the challenges encountered by Nigerians on the process of import, export and transit regulatory procedure that affected the country on the ranking.

The National Council of Managing Directors of Licensed Customs Agents (NCMDLCA), the umbrella body of customs agents in the country stated this in a letter addressed to President Muhamadu Buhari.

The agents in the letter signed by their National President, Mr. Lucky Amiwero said the federal government must urgently reform the import, export procedure to align with international best practice.

The World Bank had in the report rated Nigeria lowest in Africa and 183 out of a total of 190 trading countries examined across the globe on the Ease of Doing in relation to Business Trading Across Borders (TAD).

Nigeria, according to the report, came last among a total of 17 African countries drawn across the various regions of the continent, having also come 183 out of a total of 190 countries in the world.

The World Bank had in its Ease of Doing Business report entitled, “Doing Business 2018: Reforming to create jobs, listed Nigeria on the 145th position out of 190 countries .

The report indicated that Nigeria had moved up by 24 points from 169th position on the 2017 ranking and also 170th position on the 2016 ranking to 145 in the World Bank’s 2018 report.

However,  the custom agents pointed out that Nigeria’s import, export, regulatory and transit procedures  have   lengthy, cumbersome process  associated with unnecessary delays, high transaction cost and increase of cargo dwell time, which make our port the most expensive in the globe based on verifiable information.

The custom agents said: “The reform on import-export, regulatory and transit procedures, is to implement an integrated set policies and procedures that is globally accepted, which will ensure effective.

Trade Facilitation by the reduction of transaction cost, cargo dwell time and ensure safety and security of our processes.”

They called on the federal government to, as part of the reforms, address the issue of breakdown of scanners at the ports.

“The three scanning companies, Cotecna, SGS, and Global Scan entered into contract for the provision, installation, operation and management of X-Ray scanning machines and computerised management for examination of goods on Build, Own, Operate and Transfer(BOOT) for a period of  seven years from 2006 to 2012 extended for six months, which ended in June 2013.

“The federal government subsequently entered in to transition contract agreement, with the service providers on the 1st  July to 30th  November for transfer of scanners to Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) with the constitution of the Transition Implementation Committee on Destination Inspection scheme by the then Coordinating Minister of Finance on the 5th of July,2013, with specific mandate to ensure a seamless transfer of functional scanners  from the service providers to NCS, “they stated.

They said  government should  re-evaluate the scanners to know the present state and update the scanners as recommended by Smith Detection the manufacturers of the scanners.

“Look into the main cause of the collapse scanners, and if possible work out a PPP arrangement to maintain the scanners by releasing part of one per cent FOB provided for Inspection under Pre-Shipment Inspection Act 11 Section 3.

The creation of national data sheet, to capture, define, analyse, reconcile, to use one single data element name with common definition or coding reconcile with international standard for a single national data sheet.

In line with global best practice, the single national data sheet will accommodate and harmonised, simplify and minimize duplication and redundancy, which enhance and facilitate trade with the signing of the (MOU) by all federal agencies for a one stop-shop operation,” they added.