Federal Republic of Nigeria,
Aso Rock, Federal Capital Territory ,
Without dwelling more on history, it is pungent to point out that the situation that prevailed prior to 1979 when the then government resolved to appoint a Pre-Shipment Inspection Agent -PIA, prevailed post their appointment.
The Nigeria Customs Services has been ‘neglected’, whereas the PIAs are paid between USD$70 million to USD$75million annually ( from 1979 to 1999 ; @ $75 /20years = USD1.5billion), while the Nigeria Customs Service gets a partly allocation of less than #1billion.
Pursuance to ensuring measures to plug revenue leakages and capital flight associated with Destination Inspection, the Federal Government adopted the migration from ASYCUDA 2.7 Site to ASUCUDA ++
X – RAY SCANNERS.
The Federal Government entered into agreement with Messrs COTECNA Inspection of South Africa to provide Installation and operation of X-ray Scanners in 14 Sites to interface with the ASYCUDA 3.0 on the basis of Build,Own, Operate &Transfer -BOOT.
It was discovered that, this agreement was heavily skewed against Nigeria and its national interests because it dispenses the services of PSI, while the COTECA is wholly responsible for Nigeria Imports processing.
The COTECNA was comfortably collecting 1% FOB value on all imports, including bulk cargoes ( rods, rice, flour, etc), even where it is obvious that Scanners cannot scan bulk cargoes. This practice tantamount to collecting fees for services not rendered.
Here again, in this forgoing arrangement, professionalism continued to eluded the Customs, since the COTECNA continued to assess, classify, and value imports thereby making a return to Destination Inspection a mockery.
Mr President the story of concessioning, out-sourcing or contracting the traditional Customs works under whatever disguise as may be packaged by private interests, is endless. It has never achieved sets goals other than defeatism of national objectives.
Mr President before proceeding to inform you on the present milestones covered within the years of diligence returning of Customs work to the Nigeria Customs, it is worthy to reinstate the cost implication of developing the Information Communication Technology – ICT by the Private Interests,as follows:
Being Cost Of The Webb Fontaine And Destination Inspection Contracts From 2006 -2013:
a). Cost of Contract for the Issuance of Risk Assessment Report – RAR and ICT Infrastructure provisions = USD$312,000,000:00 million per year ( multiply that by 8 years = USD$2,496,000,000:00billion).
b). Total CostImplication, In Naira Equivalent @ #165/$1 prevailed ex-change rate =#411,840,000,000:00billion.
c). Cost Paid to the Inspection Agents from 2004 to 2012 as 1%! CISS ( Scanning Fees) = #253,921,794,540:42million.
AN UP DATE ON THE BENEFITS OF CUSTOMS MODERNIZATION UNDER THE DESTINATION SCHEME TAGGED THE PRE ARRIVAL ASSESSMENT REPORT – PAAR REGIME:
The Nigeria Customs Services developed its own ICT Infrastructure to drive its home tailored Destination Inspection Scheme, at the following Cost implications:
a). Cost for the NCS PAAR and Single Window Schemes ( Nigeria Trade Hub) = #100,861,992:00million.
b). Cost of PAAR additional enhancement support =#62,523,200:00million.
c). Cost of NCS Data And Disaster Recovery Centre =#489, 073,696:32million.
d). Total Cost implication = #652,458,888:32million equivalent to dollar value USD$ 3.954,296:30.
With the available statistics in terms of performances on total volume of cargoes handled, revenue generated, workforce employed, anti smuggle activities records so far under the PAAR REGIME, shows that, the Customs has out performed the totality of the years of the Private Inspections regimes hijacked core Customs Functions ( as ceded by the past government).
For instance, the Customs by taking back its traditional core functions, in relation to handling classification, valuation, examination under the PAAR REGIME had saved the Federal Government the above amounts that were earlier exploited and collected by the Inspection Agents as 1% CISS fees(scanning fees) and yearly contract service fee.
Further more, a total Revenue Generated by the Customs under the PAAR REGIME from 2014 to 2019, runs into tens of Trillions
For emphasis sake, the total 1% CiSS ( or Scanning Fee) collected and saved for the government by the Nigeria Customs Service from 2013 to September 2019 runs thus:
i). Year 2013 = #43, 536,963, 183:43.
II). Year 2014 = #50, 107,770,808:89.
iii). Year 2015 = #48,600,448,691:00.
iv). Year 2016 = #47,144,508,794:43.
v). Year 2017 = #57,255,198,270:65.
vi). Year 2018 = #68,912,159,092;27.
vii). Year 2019 (Jan. to Sept.) = #53,112,507,269;08.
Your Excellency, the essence of reporting this cost implications is to buttress the fact that, contracting or out sourcing Customs work means a deliberate drain of our national resources, while as encouraging the Customs to discharge its traditional works means national prosperity, pride and well being of the nation cum the citizenry.
For the umpteenth time, permit to reinstate that, the incessant recourse by the past administrations to short changing the Customs work via Concession or out sourcing, owing to the pressure from some unpatriotic elements and their foreign collaborators, to say the least, retards sustainable national economic development and stampedes the Customs professionalism and modernization drives.
The Customs like any other human elements does better when appreciated, commended and encouraged but feels disenchanted and moral dampened when short change and treated as a never do well.
At this stage of Customs modernization process, the true efforts that it requires now is to support and encourage the Customs in its derive and determination to attain and instill professional integrity (self discipline), especially amongst the younger workforce.
In the Customs modernization quest since 1979 to 2013, their incursion into the Economic activities via Finance Ministry has caused the Nation more economic harm than improving it; disadvantages overwhelmed its advantages at the long run; being paid for services rendered without cost function nor corresponding value/benefits attached to it.
Your Excellency, please permit us to offer the following candid suggestions without prejudice;
a). The International Cargo Tracking Note -ICTN when it was repackaged and reintroduced by the Nigeria Shippers Council in 2014, before it was suddenly stopped by the Government, inculcated the sense of due compliance on the Shippers/Shipping Lines, especially as it relates honest declaration of cargoes.
b. Your Excellency, placing the Comprehensive Inspection Supervision Scheme – CISS ( with no cost functions nor benefits before the Shippers) side by side with the International Cargo Tracking Note -ICTN ( with enormous cost functions, beneficial to both the government and the entire Customs port value supply chain), the Nigeria Shippers will preferably, with their two hands widely open and gladly welcome the latter, owing to its cost contents or functions factor.
c. We hereby call on Your Excellency, Mr President, to officially, cancel the continuos collection of 1% of FOB Value -tagged as; Comprehensive Inspection Supervision Scheme -CISS, a cost functionless fee, still imposed on the Shippers under the Nigeria Customs Services administration of the PAAR REGIME.
d. Note, that, the Nigeria Customs Services presently manages its ITC & Scanning Operations as reintegrated and obtains in its constituted functions (Customs and Excise Management Act -CEMA ’54), effectively.
Presently, the approval 7% of annual total collection by the past Governments forms basis for its yearly budgetary allocations..
e. Therefore, other than continuing this practice of “1% imposition fee” without cost function on the Shippers, which wets grounds and has become an attraction to the “revenue parasites, disguising as investors”, hence, the several attempts in 2102 and 2017, to lay their hands on the 1% inspection fees collection, the present approach is now packaged and christened as the “e-Customs modernization Concession”.
f. Stakeholders are keenly watching the on going drama in its scenes, especially,the stage managing approaches to further curry government favor with an intent to amass easy wealth, through serial deployment of business antics as adopted by some unpatriotic elements amongst the Citizenry and their foreign collaborators.
Their antics is clear, ever willing to exploit the system by any means available at their disposal to lay their hands on the CISS collection contracts award. They can go as far as falsifying date to boast of bumper revenue generation far above the Customs records in efforts to convince the authority.
Then deploy direct and indirect means to mounting pressure in all fronts, with a tradition of monetary inducements options, yet, all for their own business interests only and not really for the national interests.
g. Your Excellency, the Stakeholders, especially, the Trading Public will deem the cancellation or suspension of the 1% CISS Fee imposition on imports as a positive cogent imports relief from a proactive leadership under your watch, and in line with your policy thrusts: “Next Level”- of a healthy change..
Presently, Scanners installed by the erstwhile Inspection Agents (Service Providers) are now moribund (non functional). This is not too good for the image of the Nation, it limits the attainment of port operational efficiency and performance. It also portends danger to the security of the nation.
Wherefore, to add impetus in this regards, since the Nigeria Customs initial plans to acquire and install its own customized robust Scanners seems to be jettisoned, the Service, can indeed outsource the installation of scammers to the Terminal Operators via a duly supervised M.O.U.
Under such M.O.U arrangements, where the scanners will be provided by the Terminal Operators, the Nigeria Customs Service shall as it is a tradition, provide the image analysts in addition to manning the scanners.
On this premise, the Nigeria Customs Service shall in partnership with the respective Terminal Operator reintroduce a “1% Scanners Fees” ( to be shared on an agreed terms), which replaces the 1% CISS, as obtains with the earlier FMF Contract with the PIAs.
Your Excellency, In view of these considerations, on behalf of the larger number, we implore you to please use your good office to stop the growing gang up to concession the e-Customs Modernization by some unpatriotic elements fronted by their foreign collaborators.
The Nigeria Customs Service has come of age, and shown cause that it can administer itself if allowed to do so and supervised with a right attitudes.
Please treat with utmost sense of patriotism and as a passionate professionally reviewed advice without prejudice.
Thanks For Your Attention.
Long Live Mr President,
Long Live Federal Republic Of Nigeria.
Fwdr. Dr Eugene Nweke.
HOD, SEA EMPOWERMENT AND RESEARCH CENTRE LTD GT.