As part of his continuous engagement with stakeholders , The Comptroller General of Customs, Col Hameed Ibrahim Ali (Rtd) rounded up a week long working visit to Lagos and other operational areas in the South West part of the country last weekend.
During the visit, the Comptroller-General hosted members of the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) to a forum where issues of mutual concerns were addressed. On the front burner of the forum was the concern expressed by the participants over the militating impact of the Central Bank of Nigeria’s policy, banning some items from accessing its Forex Allocation. The Comptroller- General of Customs noted that the policy had created a revenue shortfall to the tune of N230 billion in the last Quarter of 2015.
He informed the forum that the request for a review has been tabled before the Vice-President.
At the end of the forum, the two sides acknowledged the growing cordial relationship existing between the Customs and The Manufacturers Association of Nigeria, and expressed commitment to sustain the tempo.To formalize the relationship, a joint Customs – MAN team was agreed to be set up to harmonise areas of conflict in a current draft Memorandum of Understanding.
Continuous engagement, honest declaration, training of Importers and regular advocacy was recommended to address the issue of value upliftments and queries. Customs was enjoined to monitor its new Dispute resolution Mechanism and review it for modification if there are gaps in implementation.
While showing understanding for the current economic downturn which places pressure on Customs to safeguard revenue on contentious declarations, the forum encouraged Customs to balance that out by availing importers the opportunity to use the Bond option to avoid heavy demurrage pending final resolution of such disputes.
The forum noted the growing violation of Intellectual Property Rights of Nigerian Manufacturers resulting in the faking of their products by foreign companies. Regular exchange of information, tracking of suspect cargo and strong collaboration were advocated to address these trade malpractices.
On the complaints over Export Expansion Grant, EEG, the Forum noted that its suspension was due to incessant abuse by some beneficiaries who indulged in racketeering and other vices. The forum however noted that some few companies played according to the rules. The Forum therefore supports on-going investigations into the scheme and expressed hope for a better incentive mechanism for exporters.
During the visit, the Comptroller- General also held consultations with some Terminal Operators in Tin Can Island and PTML Ports aimed at standardizing Customs procedures, harmonizing operations and enhancing revenue collections. The Terminal operators were receptive
to the proposals made in this regard and requested more time for further consultations.
At the Ikorodu Lighter Terminal, The Comptroller General announced Customs intention to optimize the use of the facilities . He disclosed
that Customs Management is considering the remodeling of the facility as a terminal designated to handle exports. Under the arrangement,
containers of Export will be trucked to the terminal from where they will be moved in Barges to the main Ports of Apapa and Tin-Can Island
The Comptroller- General used the visit to address Officers and Men at Ikorodu, Oyo/Osun and Ondo/Ekiti Commands. He reiterated his call for zero tolerance for corruption while rallying support for his mandate of Reform, Restructure and Revenue enhancement.
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