Dr. Muda Yusuf, Director-General of LCCI

Customs procedures for cargo clearance crippling Nigerian business community ─LCCI

*The situation is severely hurting investors and adversely affecting economic recovery efforts, calls for urgent intervention, reforms of Nigeria Customs Service ─Dr. Muda Yusuf, Director-General of LCCI

Isola Moses | ConsumerConnect

When highlighting the challenging situation at the ports making doing business difficult, the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) has condemned the hardships and frustrations which Nigerian businesses encounter in clearing their cargos at the country’s ports.

Dr. Muda Yusuf, Director-General of LCCI, who disclosed this in a statement titled, ‘Nigeria Customs Service: Imperative of Urgent Reforms’, Sunday, October 11, said that Chamber observed that the situation at the ports has made doing business difficult in the country.

The LCCI called for an urgent reform of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS).

Dr. Yusuf stated: “Customs processes and procedures for the clearance of cargo at the ports is one of the biggest challenges currently faced by the business community.

“It is severely hurting investors and adversely affecting economic recovery efforts. The situation calls for urgent intervention and reforms of the Nigerian Customs Service.”

There are issues of undue delays, weak application of technology, arbitrariness in valuation, impunity, uncertainty of international trade transactions, cost escalation, negative investment climate perception, ineffective mode of seeking redress, and pervasive human interface, among others, said he.

The Director-General of LCCI noted that “the business community is compelled to interface with too many units of the Nigeria Customs Service and other government agencies which makes doing business extremely difficult and frustrating.

“It also predisposes the system to brazen extortionist practices.”

According to him, these units include the Pre-Arrival Assessment Report office, valuation units, examination, releasing, unblocking, DC report, stamping unit, exit gate, enforcement, and other government agencies that businesses had to contend with at the ports.

Yusuf stated such other agencies include the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON), Plant Quarantine, State Security Service (SSS), Police Anti-Bomb Squad, and the Port Police.

Likewise, outside the ports, he said, importers are being confronted with the Federal Operations Unit of the Customs, Customs Strike Force, and the Customs Police.

He lamented the situation that “encounters by the private sector with these numerous agencies impose unbearable burden on importers and investors in terms of costs, time, and the bureaucracy.”

He as well mentioned that there are recurring issues of valuation of imports and HS Code classification of products.

“PAAR issued by Customs headquarters are frequently queried by customs operatives at the ports.

“Many businesses have suffered severe disruptions in their investment projections because of large variations arising from revision of value and re-classification of imports by the PAAR office at the Customs headquarters and the Customs units at the ports.

“This phenomenon has become persistent and hurting investors. It has also become a major source of uncertainty for businesses,” he stressed.

According to him, the trade facilitation role of the Nigeria Customs Service has been practically jettisoned in pursuit of revenue targets, while this disposition is impacting negatively the investors.

Yusuf further emphasised that the frustrations of importers are compounded by the clumsy, long winded, bureaucratic processes for seeking redress in the country’s economy.

“Importers hardly get fair hearing because the Customs are the accusers and the judge.

“A fair, just, speedy appeal process is most urgently needed to save the private sector from the tyranny of the Nigerian customs service,” he added.

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