By Emma Okonji
The Assistant Comptroller General of the Nigerian Customs Service, Benjamin Terseer Aber, has said the deployment of technology solutions for the automation of services will save the federal government as much as N1.7 trillion annually.
Aber who made the disclosure in Lagos at the weekend, while presenting a paper on the future of Customs services at the Oracle Impact Technology Summit organised by Oracle Technology Company, said with the deployment of Oracle solution for business automation, the agency has been able to generate over N140 billion in one month, precisely in the month of August 2018.
According to Aber, Customs was generating less than N400 billion in one year as at 2005, before the deployment of the technology solutions from 2013.
“In 2005, Customs generated less than N400 billion in one year, but since August this year, we generated N140 billion in one month, with the power of technology innovation deployed into customs services. We have since moved from manual documentation to automated documentation. We have deployed software solutions from Oracle that manages both the front-end and the back-end services of Customs,” Aber said.
Giving details of how the technology automation works, Aber said “business automation remained key for us at Customs to enable us move away from manual processes of clearing of goods. What we did was to introduce the Nigeria Integrated Customs Information System (NICIS 11) software application from Oracle to connect all government agencies on the same platform to enable us interface electronically with all other government agencies that are involved in controlling international trade transactions”.
“When a clearing agent makes bank payment to Customs or to any of the government agencies and the bank uploads the payment on the NICIS 11 platform, we automatically see the payment derails online, and this has compelled all clearing agents that do clearing business with Customs to be transparent without trying to cut corners and shortchanging government. So the automation of Customs business through NICIS 11 solution that was developed specifically for Customs, has helped Customs save trillions of naira for government through clearance activities”, Aber said.
According to him Customs also used another technology tool called Tax Identification Number (TIN).
“Before deploying TIN, we were using social codes to identify companies that have paid their taxes, but we later realised that not all companies import goods and not all companies pay their taxes. So we partnered Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), to develop TIN. Once a company registers with FIRS, it automatically gets TIN with which the company can transact business with Customs.
So any company without TIN is not allowed to do any business with Customs. Immediate we deployed it, our revenue generation from companies that pay tax, increased,” he added.