. Says its anti-trade facilitation, export drive
By Ray Ugochukwu
The N2.0 trillion revenue target set for the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) in 2020 by the Federal Government has been roundly condemned by the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA), which says it is not done anywhere in the world.
Speaking at a media chat Tuesday in Lagos, the National President of the association, Hon. Iju Tony Nwabunike, said this was never practiced in any other part of the world where the main duty of the Customs was trade facilitation.
”All over the world, Customs is known to facilitate trade. It is only in Nigeria you see government setting revenue target for Customs. To us in ANLCA this is unacceptable as that would make officers to deviate from their main function of trade facilitation and begin to do unnecessary things in order to meet such targets,” the President said.
He noted that the set target could only be met through duty collection on imported items, a development, he said could rubbish the governments drive at encouraging the business of exportation by Nigerians to earn foreign exchange. In his words, ”Why should you give Customs target? Are you encouraging importation to the detriment of exportation? By setting revenue target for them, you are technically discouraging exportation instead of the other way round.”
Nwabunike therefore called on the Federal Government to review the unwholesome policy, which he said was part of the things that were causing problems in the ports.
On the associations recent visits to the Ministry of Transportation and the office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Hon. Nwabunike explained that they were quite fruitful as they used the opportunity to lay before the authorities the multiplicity of problems facing their members in the ports.
One of such problems, he disclosed, was the nagging issue of the border closure where he said over 2,000 trucks had been made to sit at the Seme border corridor for the past six months without any remedy in sight.
He informed that his recent visits to the border post presented a disgusting sight of wastage of resources. According to him, some of the perishable goods had expired, rusted, decayed or had gotten rotten so much so as to be emitting maggots, adding that it was quite difficult placing a price tag on the monumental loss incurred by Nigerians.
He blamed the country’s proximate neighbours, who had over the years, adopted a sabotaging approach to Nigerias economic and fiscal policies of having pushed her to the wall resulting in the drastic border closure.
The ANLCA boss, popularly called Iju, however expressed optimism that the government would soon address the border issue as the matter was being addressed at the regional and continental levels, maintaining that the development had actually taken a huge toll on importers and their agents.
Other issues tabled before the Ministry of Transportation and the SGF, he listed as high port charges on goods by shipping firms and terminal operators, poor port access roads, lack of scanners that had resulted in 100 per cent physical examination, absence of rail system for cargo evacuation, among others.
He revealed that the Minister of State for Transportation, Senator Gbemi Saraki, was excited to receive his team and promised to work with the association in order to resolve the problems militating against port operations in the country.
On the crisis dogging the 65 year old association, Iju expressed happiness that it would soon be over as the members were presently more united than some months back, pointing out that all those hitherto suspended had reunited with the group.He assured that by the time the Peace Committee set up to address all the grievances tidied up its deliberations, total harmony would have been restored in the association.