Destination Inspectors in Nigerian Ports, otherwise known as Service Providers like the SGS and other risk management and scanning service providers are faced with a lot of challenges in the course of their service delivery.
These challenges which are manifested on the day to day running of their businesses at the nation’s port ranges from Risk Assessment Report (RAR)/Risk Management and price verification and classification of information to cargo scanners and scanning services, as well as training courses and complete handover to the Nigerian Custom Service (NCS).
The aim of the Destination Inspection Policy of the Federal Government was primarily to strengthen the capacity of the Nigerian Customs Service (NCS) by replacing pre-shipment inspection in exporting countries with inspection on arrival in Nigeria using the latest technology tools.
This objective was envisioned to take care of notable irregularities which had characterised the Nigerian Maritime business as the case may be.
Other reasons for the destination inspection include the facilitation of trade through risk management and the use of non-intrusive inspection (x-ray scanning) of selected imports prior to Customs clearances thereby minimising the need for physical examination, as well as to enhance regulatory compliance and collection of import duties/taxes.
In a move to meet the objectives, the Federal Government engaged the services of some service providers like the SGS scanners to assist NCS with the implementation of the Destination Inspection Service (DI).
The three service providers commissioned for the job are SGS, Global Scan and Cotecna, and the function of the service providers are splited into three: port/point of arrival and entry into Nigeria.
SGS zone covers the Port Harcourt main port and airport, Onne Port, Idiroko border post, and the Ilorin International Airport.
Other service providers like the Global Scan covers Calabar Port, Warri, Lagos Airport, and Service Border Area, while the Cotecna canner covers the Apapa Port, Tincan Island Port, Abuja Airport, Kano Airport, as well as the Jibiya and Banki border posts.
In an effort to meet up the stated objectives in their zone, the SGS on their part has said that it has provided both classroom and on the job training for NCS, in all Destination Inspection (DI) aspects, to enable them complete the handover process to NCS at the end of the contract.
Like other service providers might have done, the SGS also said that it has deployed a Risk Management System and X-ray Cargo Scanning Machines to facilitate trade, which have minimised need for physical inspection.
This has also helped to identify suspected containers with contraband goods thereby enhancing the clearance of cargoes as well as reducing the delay caused by physical inspection.
The Managing Director of SGS, Mr Nigel Balchin who dropped the hint when the House of Representative Committee on Customs visited Port Harcourt recently, also posited that the interlink between the service providers system and NCS ASYCUDA system, which is the electronic Customs (e-Customs) and Direct Trade Input (DTI) introduction has helped in compliance and proper accountability.
The ASYCUDA (e-CUSTOMS) which was implemented at Onne Port in November 2007, was later implemented in Port Harcourt in June 2009, which has facilitated documentation/transactions.
Inspite of this progress recorded by SGS, there are other issues that have impeded the smooth sail of the DI activities which have translated to delay in cargo clearing process.
Transmission of documents to service provider(s) is one of such challenges in the DI operations. The guideline requires that Form “M” and other final shipping documents must be received from the bank in Lagos.
The guideline for DI also requires that duly completed and approved form “M” should be submitted to the office of the respective scanning and Risk Service Provider in Lagos not later than five working days after the approval.
According to SGS, this policy has placed importers, particularly those at Eastern ports at a disadvantage as the form “M” application is still in hard copy and has to be sent by courier by the importer’s local bank branch to the bank’s head office in Lagos for approval.
From the SGS presentations, an importer who completes and submits Form “M” in Port Harcourt to his bank, the form has to go by courier to the bank’s office in Lagos, who also will in turn send this document to SGS office in Lagos, which may take up to three days before getting to SGS.
By estimate, a document returned for submission will take six days on the journey, and this will result to delay in cargo clearing process.
Transmission of copies of Risk Assessment Report (RAR) to importees has posed big challenge to service provider like the SGS.
Making a presentation at the seminar organised by maritime reporters in Port Harcourt, Mr Oyebode Joseph of SGS stated that the issue of sending RAR in hard copy to head offices of banks has posed challenges to quick service delivery.
He said RAR contains vital information about the value, and classification for the guidance of NCS to facilitate the final determination for clearing.
According to Mr Joseph, experience has shown that cargoes are not normally presented for scanning by the clearing agents on time. This puts pressure on the scanning operators to cope with the rush at closing time.
The possibility of training Customs officers that will man the scanning and e-Customs services is another challenge facing SGS and other DI contractors before the end to their contract period.
Apart from operating, the maintenance is also vital as well as getting acquainted with the latest technology on scanning and ASYCUDA, before termination of contract.
For the 48 hours cargo clearing process to be effective, the processes of documentation and inspection which have posed challenges to service providers have to be addressed.
As part of solutions to the challenges, Mr Oyebode of SGS has stated that the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) is rolling an electronic Form “M” project in the near future and this will assist importers outside Lagos.
Also, SGS is positioning to begin to send copies of RAR by e-mail to bank branches that opened the Form “M”.
On the delay on presenting cargo for scanning, clearing agents are being encouraged to make use of the mornings when cargoes can be cleared without delays so as to leave the port in good time.
Also, the SGS has maintained that it will adopt the train the trainer method for Customs officers, who will in turn train others, and this will be done in batches.
When these challenges are taken care of then cargo clearing process could be easier, and there is hope that 48 hour clearing will be achievable, even outside the Lagos ports environs.
Economic Growth, Determining Factor For Policies In 2023 – Stockbrokers
Chairman of Research and Technology at the Chartered Institute of Stockbrokers (CIS), Mr. Akeem Oyewale, has said that economic growth and development should be the determining factor in policies ahead of 2023.
Oyewale, who said this recently at the institute’s Annual National Economic Review and Outlook 2022 webinar in Lagos, urged policy makers to act in a spirit of justice and tolerance to avoid acts that could lead to violence in the run-up to the 2023.
Speaking on the topic: “Global Dynamics Shaping Nigeria‘s Economic Future”, Oyewale listed factors such as the process leading up to the 2023 general elections, the response to Omicron, and the effects of COVID-19, as what would also determine the growth of the nation’s economic development.
He used the fora to urge the Federal Government to intensify its engagement with Nigeria’s capital market to better smoothly finance the 2022 budget deficit without increasing borrowing.
Oyewale also directed the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to fully consider the effects on the capital market when making monetary and fiscal policies.
According to him, the philosophy of building an economy led by the private sector enshrined in the National Development Plan must be strictly adhered to.
On the need for new listings, Oyewale said Nigeria National Petroleum Company’s trading should continue with the public listing of its shares on the stock market.
This, he explained, would give Nigerians the opportunity to co-own one of the country’s commanding heights.
“The CBN and banks should grant trading facilities to securities trading firms in the country to maintain optimism in the capital market”, he said.
Speaking further, he urged pension funds and other institutional investors to increase their investment in the stock market to create much-needed stability and encourage new investment.
Earlier, President of the CIS Council, Mr Olatunde Amolegbe, said the institute would continue with initiatives that would enhance its growth and development in 2022.
Amolegbe stated that CIS would undertake activities that would promote capital market literacy in all geopolitical zones of the country, saying that he would strengthen collaboration with international professional bodies such as CISI UK and others for the benefit of their members.
He continued that the institute was working to increase the number of Nigerian universities offering graduate and undergraduate courses in securities and investment/capital market studies.
“Our vision by 2023 is to see the Securities and Investments profession registered in the hearts of young Nigerian academics as their preferred career path and CIS as the model to be followed by other professional bodies,” he concluded.
PenCom Completes Review Of Pension Reform Act 2014
The regulatory body of the Nigerian Pension Industry, the National Pension Commission (PenCom) says it has deliberated on the review of the Pension Reform Act 2014 (PRA 2014).
This was contained in a statement to newsmen signed by Peter Aghahowa, Head, Corporate Communications of PenCom, who disclosed that the regulator organised the retreat on the review of PRA 2014 in Abuja between January 12 and 14.
According to Aghahowa, the retreat was aimed at identifying salient issues to be reviewed in the PRA 2014 as a prelude to advancing legislative action on the bill.
Aghahowa said it is expected that the National Assembly would subsequently organise a public hearing to provide an avenue for stakeholders to formally make input into the proposed amendments.
He also said that the PRA 2014 was enacted following a review of the initial PRA of 2004, which introduced legal and institutional frameworks of the Contributory Pension Scheme (CPS) and established PenCom to regulate and supervise all pension matters in Nigeria.
According to him, the Director-General of PenCom, Aisha Dahir-Umar, during the opening ceremony of the retreat, had informed the participants that the PRA 2014 codified one of the most important socio-economic reform initiatives of the Federal Government.
He continued that she said this has brought about a pension industry that has accumulated pension assets in excess of N13 trillion invested in various aspects of the Nigerian economy.
He quoted her as saying that “the review is a corollary to some implementation challenges encountered with certain sections of the Act not long after its enactment in July 2014.
“This was also an addition to persistent calls from stakeholders for the amendment of some sections of the Act, which resulted in several legislative initiatives through the sponsorship of Bills for amendment of the PRA 2014 by the National Assembly.
“Consequently, the Commission as the regulator of the pension industry, decided to coordinate and harmonize the various efforts in order to achieve a comprehensive and constructive exercise for the review of PRA 2014”, he concluded.
Speed Up Resolutions On Tax Disputes, FIRS Urges Tribunals
The Chairman of the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), Muhammad Mamman Nami, has called on chairmen and commissioners of the Tax Appeals Tribunals (TAT) to devise appropriate mechanisms to achieve early and speedy resolution of tax disputes.
Nami made the appeal in Abuja recently at the opening of a two-day retreat on the new TAT ‘Procedure’ Rules and e-Filing platform.
He advised members of the tribunal to also pay attention to the public concern on the inconsistency in Order III (6) of the new TAT (Procedure) Rules and Paragraph 15(7) of the 5th Schedule to the FIRS (Establishment) Act to avoid litigations.
“I commend the commissioners for contributing to the development of the tax jurisprudence through the delivery of sound judgments.
According to him, from available reports, they have always exhibited a high level of commitment, probity and transparency in the discharge of their responsibilities.
“I want to also use this medium to appreciate and thank the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, and all those who contributed to the development of the new TAT (Procedure Rules) and the e-filling platform.
“These two landmark achievements are expected to improve the efficiency of the tribunals for timely and quicker delivery of judgments, which in turn, will improve compliance and collection,” he said.
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