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Customs committed to trade facilitation, says Ali

The Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) says it is taking the lead and working assiduously with other relevant agencies to ensure proper implementation of the single-window system for trade facilitation, as part of its modernisation project.

The Comptroller General of Customs, Col. Hameed Ali (rtd) gave the assurance in Lagos during a recent 2-day training programme, organised by the Association of Maritime Journalist of Nigeria (AMJON) with the theme, “Enhancing Capacity/Efficiency in Modern News Reportage”.

The single-window system is a trade facilitation concept which allows an international trader (importer/exporter) to submit information to a single platform, rather than having to deal with multiple agencies in different locations to obtain necessary papers, permits and clearances to complete their import or export processes.

However, Nigeria is still struggling to fully implement the scheme which helps save time and is recognised by the World Customs Organisation (WCO), as well as other trade related organisations.

The Nigerian government agencies involved in the process include: Customs, National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON), Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Federal Ministry of Finance, National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), National Environmental Standards and Regulations Enforcement Agency (NESREA), Raw Materials Research and Development Council (RMRDC) and Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit.

The Customs CG who was represented by the National Public Relations Officer (PRO) of the Service, Abdullahi Maiwada, said that the Service has been working hard and carrying along all agencies involved in the trade process to make it work as expected.

He stated that the objective remains the improved movement of goods, eliminating time wastage, reducing associated cost burdens and maximising efficiency, while safeguarding legitimate trade.

He said: “The issue of single windows is one of the WCO trade facilitation areas which has to do with coordination and cooperation among agencies. It is one of the key areas if we really want to take trade seriously in Nigeria. The effort is on and we are hopeful of achieving that.

“It is not a core responsibility of the Customs alone to achieve this; so many agencies need to come together so that we can have good interaction between us. I think this kind of interface has been championed by the Customs. If you look at our system, it embraces sister agency collaboration so that cargoes can be moved effectively.

Speaking on some of his achievements in office as CGC, he stated that the new Customs Act 2023 is a major milestone, apart from the trade modernisation project and the completion of the multi-billion Customs corporate headquarters in Abuja.

He however, explained that the new Act is not yet available to the public because it has not been officially gazetted, adding that the effective date for the full implementation of the legislation would be decided as a matter of priority in due course.

“The Act is not in the public domain because it is yet to be officially gazetted. The department of legal services is working day and night to ensure that the law is gazetted.

“And before that is perfected, a holistic sensitisation will commence, right from the management members, to controllers and stakeholders. I’m working on a media plan on how the sensitisation will be effective”.

The Customs boss pointed out that based on performance, the Nigeria Customs Service is doing better than some of their foreign counterparts and will continue to improve on effective service delivery and trade facilitation.

On anti-smuggling, he revealed that the Service will soon adopt the use of satellite images, geospatial drones and others to tackle economic sabotage at the country’s borders.

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