Comptroller Willy Egbudin is the new Customs Area Controller (CAC) of Apapa Command of the Nigeria Customs Service in this exclusive interview with MMS Plus Weekly he highlights the areas of interest to the command and how he plans to move the Command forward.
how do you plan to increase and monitor increased revenue generation in your command?
Revenue generation is very key to the NCS because we generate almost 50% of the total revenue of the Federal Government. If you look at the Apapa area command, it is the flagship Command of the Service because revenue is one of the core responsibilities and functions of Customs. If you look at last year’s figure you will realize that even though they could not meet their target the revenue generation was quite impressive, we must ensure that this time around, we exceed that figure.
We also need to ensure that there is substantial compliance to the rules because if there is no compliance we will find it very difficult to generate something. During a parade recently, I told officers of the Command that one thing that is key is to ensure that we generate the maximum revenue for the government and in the first meeting with my management team here, head of units and terminals.
I made it clear to them that they must as a matter of fact always write a weekly report on the activities in their Command, these activities will include; the number of containers that you received into your terminal, the revenue you generated from those containers, then your records in terms of the number of Debit Notes (DN) that you issued because we know that the trading public is not fully compliant, there must be some infractions here and there.
We expect that the deputy comptrollers or assistant comptrollers in charge of all those terminals or units, should be able to generate revenue in terms of intervention by DN. We have made this clear and this was something that was not in place before now, so we want to put that in place to ensure that we monitor this revenue from time to time.
The issue of scanner that is not working, how will you address that immediately?
When I first came on board, I met with the person in charge of scanning machines here and I asked him what is the state of the scanners and he told me that the fixed scanners are in good condition but what is not working as it should, is the mobile scanners, with the fixed scanners, we can scan as much as over 500 containers a day and I think that is something.
What are the procedures for the maintenance of scanners are there any mutual agreements for maintenance?
The service providers have a maintenance section and they actually train some of our officers, in terms of maintenance contracts, I cannot go into any contract on behalf of the Command, most of these things are done from the headquarters. Apapa cannot go into any contract by itself, but it can make propositions to the headquarters and I am sure they have done so before now, otherwise the fixed scanners that are working now will not be working.
I think that before i came here, I heard, that most of the scanners were not functioning but when I came I asked and I was told that the fixed scanners have been repaired and are working.
What do you have in mind as regards staff motivation, how are you going to motivate the officers and sustain it and how do you sanction erring officers?
In every establishment and customs is not an exception, there are ways of rewarding people who are hardworking and also a way of sanction those who are not compliant Customs has a robust welfare system generally and officers from time to time are given recommendations and at Apapa Command level, when I spoke with them I told them that in my own way, I will be commending officers who are outstanding.
For officers who raise a substantial DN, we will write a letter to Abuja so that they will be recognized. We have put that in place already, I have also told them that if you are well dressed because discipline is the bedrock of any successful organization, I told them that if you are properly and smartly dressed, you will be recognized.
At any parade, we are going to select officers that are well dressed because if you are well dressed it shows that you are disciplined and when you are disciplined you will be focused and definitely understand why you need to comply with extant laws of the Service.
so we will be doing that, we will identify those that are well dressed and select, the most well dressed person, We will flash their pictures everywhere, so that people will get to know them as well disciplined officer, so also, anybody that raises a good DN or that has done something that is worth taking note of, we will also recognize such persons. We will also write letters to Abuja to commend such officers.
At the headquarters, in the past, I think the Comptroller General, on several occasions had to write commendation letters on behalf of officers in the field to let the management know what they were doing. On the other hand if you do something wrong, if you are not doing things right, you will have no place with us here, I have told the officers specifically that if they connive with any agent to defraud the Federal Government of its revenue, I will not spare the person found wanting, I will investigate and take the person and the file together and send them to Abuja for further action.
Considering the role of freight agents to your operations, how do you plan to carry them along?
Freight forwarders are an integral part of our operations because they represent the shipper and without them we will not be here. i have been CAC in other places and what i usually do is to ensure we have regular meeting, where we make them understand that if they do not want their jobs to be delayed they need to be transparent and honest in their declaration. if any of them declares accurately what they have in their container and any officer decides to extort money from them, all they have to do is to let me know and we will deal with such officer but if they are not complaint with the regulations and an officer is billing them and dragging them from place to place, then they will have themselves to blame
I think by next week, we will be having our next meeting.Where we need to let them know that once they do the right thing they don’t have any reason to fear but if they are not transparent they will have serious problems with us.
How will you address the issue of over-time cargos?
There is a specified way we treat over-time cargo. The dwell time of any container is a maximum of 28 days, according to what the rules stipulates. If for one reason or the other some people are not able to come up to clear their consignment within that period, what we do is after a specific time, we have to draw up an Uncleared Cargo List (UCL) and once we draw up this UCL, we forward them to Abuja and Abuja will now request that such containers be transferred to Ikorodu.
Soon, I am going to pass this request to most of the terminal operators and actually ask them to ensure that they transfer all the containers that are due to Ikorodu. Additionally, I will want to tell the trading public not to toy with Federal Government revenue, I will want the trading public especially, to be transparent in their declaration, so that there will be no need for containers to overstay in the ports.
While we are talking about FG revenue, we should also encourage trade facilitation because time is business, if there is delay in cargo clearance, the cost will also be added to the goods in the market, but if we facilitate trade, it will help the growth of the economy as well because people will be able to increase their turn around in their businesses. So definitely, I will encourage facilitation of legitimate trade.