By DAPO OLAWUNI
The Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) has once again called on the Nigeria Customs Service to set aside its cumbersome cargo examination processes and invoke the section 28 and 29 of the Customs and Excise Management Act (CEMA) which talks about “Bill of Sight”
Bill of Sight in Customs parlance is to suspend the use of Form M, Pre-Arrival Assessment Report (PAAR) and other instruments so as to ensure that an importer takes delivery of his cargo faster with minimum observation and human contact.
Vice President of ANLCA, Dr Kayode Farinto warned that with the rate the Customs service was going about its operations at this time, it would encourage the Coronavirus to spread faster at Nigerian ports.
Farinto said despite letters written to the Secretary General of the Federation, Mr Boss Mustapha and the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi on the need for customs to invoke the Bill of Sight, the CG of Customs, Col Hameed Ali has remained adamant.
He described the customs hierarchy as set of confused people.
According to him “If there is an outbreak of COVID 19 in the maritime industry the Customs should be held responsible, we are in a period of war and we suggested that, let us invoke section 28 and 29 of the CEMA law which talks about Bill of Sight”
“And what is bill of sight? It means if this man is an importer he has a bill of lading he may not need to go through the process of obtaining a PAAR or Form M, he can go to wherever his cargo is and position it for examination, the valuation unit and all the various unit will look at the examination and the valuation unit will give him a duty to go and pay and he will pay his duty instantly and carry his cargo”
“Why do they need to invoke the Bill of Sight at this period? Number one, it reduces human contact, secondly it will also reduce the number of intervention from customs unit”
“We get alert from the Nigeria customs controller office, we get alert from the valuation department, alert from CIU, alert from Abuja and alert from PCA.
We get about seven alert on one cargo, and if we are able to achieve this, all these will stop, all we need to do is to invoke that section, the law is already there based on the fact that we are in a Pandemic period we are invoking section 28 and 29 of the CEMA Act”
Farinto advocated that a committee should be set up called; Alternative Dispute Resolution Committee at every command level which would comprise comprise the valuation, the CPC and the gate officer and once the committee treats a cargo, nobody touches the consignment again”
“The Customs are still believing that they are pursuing their revenue target and that’s why I said, if there is an outbreak of COVID 19 in the maritime industry, they should be held responsible because every other department have actually keyed in except customs”
“We have sent a letter to Boss Mustapha that this particular section should be invoked, as I speak with you, nothing has been done about it, we have sent letters to the Minister of Transportation and up till now nothing has been done about it, this is because we have a custom management that is high-handed and that is why I describe the present customs management as confused”