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Freight Forwarders Urged To Instigate Mechanisms Protecting Customs And Importers

Freight Forwarders Urged To Instigate Mechanisms Protecting Customs And ImportersBy Kenneth Jukpor

Nigerian Customs Service (NCS) has admonished freight forwarders to develop strategies that ensure they don’t compromise Customs duties and regulations whilst they retain the clients, importers and exporters.

The new Customs Area Controller of the Apapa Command, Comptroller Abubakar Bashir made this call on Tuesday during his maiden stakeholders’ meeting which held at the command in Apapa, Lagos.

The Customs boss lamented that most freight forwarders have been forced to ignore payment of correct customs duties as a result of the desire to get contracts from importers.

He said; “There ought to be a way freight forwarders can protect their profession and protect the customs. The onus to develop such parameters to enable you keep importers and protect customs rests on the agents. The importer is always looking for ways to make more profit and agents must stick recognize and uphold the place of professinalism”

Meanwhile, reacting to this, a freight forwarder suggested that the Customs introduce an initiative that would see licensed agents get quarterly commissions based on the volume of revenue generated via his or her license.

Mr. Peter Dogo, an Ex-Chairman of the International Freight Forwarders Association (IFFA) Apapa Chapter made this call at the meeting, narrating that a similar model was operated in Brazil where agents see the initiative as an incentive to ensure their clients pay correct duties.

“The Customs should introduce a system to reward diligent agents. At the end of every quarter, they should check how much each agent has generated via customs duties and give back a fraction the agent. Even if the fraction is a little as 0.5%, it would go a long way to encourage people to do the right thing” he said.

According to Dogo, importers would be forced to pay the right duties when there are no agents willing to be compromised.

Earlier the Customs boss stated that the Service was set to begin blocking of licenses of companies and subsequent arrest of the owners of over 1,000 unutilized Pre-Arrival Assessment Report (PAAR) and unpaid assessment at the Apapa Command.

The Customs boss said that he expected to receive an official report on the status of unutilized PAAR in the command in writing, noting that the command alone had over 1,000 unutilized PAAR.

Bashir also called on the companies, organizations as well as agents to any of the companies or organizations with records of unutilized PAAR or unpaid assessment to come forward and check the record so as to take necessary action to prevent punitive measures from the Customs.

He said, “When you have unutilized PAAR or unpaid assessment, I don’t invite you because you know about it already, so there is no need for me to invite you, it’s just action. What is the action? One, blocking you, your company will not be able to carry any cargo in any of the ports in Nigeria. Two, if you don’t act again, find a way to go and seal up your company if you are the agent. If you are the importer, I seal off the company, arrest whoever I want to arrest because it amounts to economic sabotage.

“Please disseminate this information and you will be surprised you have an importation, the cargo you have not taken it, it is still in the port, meanwhile, your company’s name is in the list of those that have not utilized their PAAR or you have even done the assessment but simply because you are having one issue or the other with any of the stakeholders like the shipping companies or the terminal operators, you have not been able to take your cargo, in customs circle, it will still be signaling to us that it has not been taken but you have done assessment, you have two problems now; one, you have done assessment, two, unutilized PAAR meanwhile, the cargo is still in the ports.

On the NICIS II platform recently launched by the Service, the Customs Area Controller noted that the platform was at teething stage now adding that currently, they had identified some other issues at the command as it relates to NICIS II which he said he was sending to the Comptroller General of Customs for consideration.

 “So, it is like on daily basis, we improve and just give us little time but it is good we hear about it because you are encouraging us”, he added.

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