The Assistant Comptroller General of Customs in Charge Of Zone ‘A’ Command, Mr. Charles Edike has pledged to provide venues as conference centres for the Nigerian Shippers Council to enlighten youths on the enormous potentials in the maritime industry.
Edike stated this while speaking on behalf of the Comptroller General of Customs, Col. Hameed Ali (Rtd) at the Nigerian Shippers Council/ TELL Maritime Summit 2016 with the theme, “Exploring Opportunities in Nigeria’s Maritime Industry”.
Edike also stressed that the Nigeria Customs Service would not attempt to facilitate trade at the expense of national security and the Customs would only facilitate trade to the extent that freight forwarders and clearing agents allow them to.
“If the declaration by an importer and freight forwarder is straightforward then trade will be facilitated but where there are discrepancies, we would stop the system so we can facilitate trade to the extent the agents allow us. We can also not facilitate trade at the expense of national security”.
However, the President of the Freight Forwarding Trade Group of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Mrs. Julie A. Ogboru accused the Customs of bedeviling the agents and freight forwarders.
“Stop telling us about bad certification or declaration, bad this or bad that, you should make a definite statements on the right procedures and there should be a way of disciplining offenders. Stop telling us that the importers or agents are corrupt. How about the Customs Service?” she blurted out.
However the Executive Secretary of the Nigerian Shippers Council insisted that it takes more than two persons to tangle to perpetuate a corrupt act in the maritime industry but he urged stakeholders and agencies to be in sync. Hassan maintained that the Customs Service had undergone a lot of transformation over the years especially in the area of automation.
“This is a very sensitive stakeholders meeting and it buttresses the need that we ought to have interconnectivity between the stakeholders as well as the agencies. Nigeria Customs has continued to upgrade over the years and this is very visible in the area of automation and we have to commend the efforts of the CGC Col. Hameed Ali (Rtd). Automation means that there is transparency and it also means that cost is saved”, Hassan explained.
Meanwhile, Mr. William Ezeagu who represented the Nigerian Export Promotion Council urged the Shippers Council to construct Export Warehouses close to the ports in other to assist Small and Medium-sized Enterprises in exporting.
Mr. William also reiterated the need to get more Nigerian youth aware of the massive potentials in the maritime and agriculture sectors, even as he called for the introduction of export incentives for agriculture and the creation of Cold Storage facilities at the ports.
Hassan Bello had earlier asserted that most of the problems facing the maritime industry were as a result of government’s inability to guarantee a stable business environment that can assure the foreign companies that there is appreciable level of certainty about policies before they invest.
Hassan revealed that he was aware that agents had complaints against Customs, the same way they have complaints against the terminal operators and the shipping companies and the shipping companies and terminal operators have complaints against the government because the government had failed to come up with consistent policies.
“Government has a responsibility and it is our duty to tell the government that they should have a deliberate policy on the maritime industry. They want the maritime industry to generate revenue but they would have to invest. They say a good soup, it’s money that makes is possible” He added.
By Kenneth Jukpor