Poor supply chain integrity hurting trade facilitation, says Customs

The Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) has expressed its resolve to continue to scrutinize the various processes for fraudulent intent, in the course of duty while facilitating trade.
Deputy Controller  of Customs Dera Nnadi, who is in charge of enforcement and compliance at the Tin-Can Island Command of the Customs, stated this in an interview during a focus group meeting convened by the Nigerian Chamber of Shipping in Lagos on Tuesday.

He said much emphasis had been laid on regulation, compliance and further checks to stop unscrupulous acts that could hurt the economy and national security.

He said: “A 21st century customs officer would prefer to give priority to trade facilitation, but then, how do you do that in an environment where supply chain integrity is very poor, and you need to enforce compliance.

“Even when you try to facilitate trade, again, how do you also marry trade facilitation against national security? These are emerging key issues and some of the reasons for the amendment of our law.”

Earlier in his presentation, Nnadi had told the gathering that the NCS simply works within its function of implementing trade policies as has been set, and not the making of policies.

He had spoken in that direction explaining to stakeholders who lament the huge duty payment on importation of vessels, while it is zero duty on importation of aircraft.

“What we do as customs is to take feedback from people like you and send it to management, so that management would pass it to the relevant government agency, this time around, the ministry of finance.

“We take whatever policy that government comes up with, interpret and share with you. What we do with the policies is to implement them, because of the mandate that we have,” Nnadi said.

He, however, called attention that agencies of government, particularly in the maritime industry, should focus on their primary regulatory functions rather than emphasizing on revenue collection, one of the core functions of the customs service.

His words: “If we are going to emphasize on revenue, we can identify government agencies that are mainly concerned with revenue, like customs, and ask them to deal with revenue.

“We see that many agencies, particularly in maritime abandon their regulatory functions for revenue, making operators to be overtaxed and when they are overtaxed they circumvent the processes.”

He added that following pressures from double taxation, people try to wiggle their way out by cheating, and then make enforcement and compliance a challenge.