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MAN Backs New Customs Clearing System

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Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) has commended the single window initiative by the Nigeria Customs Service, saying it would eliminate human contact, bottlenecks and corruption from goods clearing environment.

President of the association, Chief Kola Jamodu, described it in Lagos recently at the end of single window workshop organised by the Customs Service, as a necessary platform needed to significantly boost government revenue from trans-border trade. Besides, he said it would help in actualizing the nation’s dream for 48-hour cargo clearing scheme.

“From all accounts, the aspiration of the Government and the private sector is the attainment of 48-hour cargo-clearing, which at present is about five days, having come down from the dismal 40 days obtainable three to four years ago.

“The impressive reduction in the long chain of regulatory/ security agencies operating at the port from about 19 to seven were to prepare the port for the Single Window Clearing System. This will no doubt significantly reduce both direct and indirect costs of clearing cargoes in the country,’’ he said adding, that the NSW would certainly increase the competitiveness of locally produced goods, either for domestic consumption or for export.

Meanwhile, the Comptroller General of Customs, Alhaji Dikko Inde Abdullahi, has assured the nation that when the NSW comes on stream, it might wipe off stakeholders’ complaints on issues of man-made bottlenecks in cargo administration.

“The creation of a NSW holds many benefits for Nigeria: increased levels of service efficiency, predictable process and elimination of administrative bottlenecks; and which will ultimately increase revenue and economic growth”, he declared, in a statement delivered by Deputy Comptroller General (DCG), Mr. J. Atteh, who represented him at the workshop.

According to the Customs’ boss, single window was a tool which manufacturers, exporters, importers, terminal operators, financial houses and regulatory bodies have all been waiting for.

“The Nigeria Customs Service recognizes these benefits and therefore reiterates its continuous commitment to creating the perfect NSW for Nigeria as the leading agency. All hands are on deck to realize the target of improving our trading across borders ranking by 50 percent in the next five years”, he said.

Meanwhile, a Single Window expert, Johan Ponten has advised that though the initiative was a positive change, Nigeria must ensure that it proactively implement plans to prepare and support those to be affected by it.

Presenting his feasibility study as a resource person, Ponten stressed the need for proper use of communication to intimate reasons behind every decision, for staff see reasons and understand why such change was needed, as well as the possibilities and challenges that lay ahead of them.

“New information should be given in a coordinated, effective and timely way. Roles should be clear, detailing who is responsible for sending what messages” he counseled, even as reiterated the need for accuracy of information, being precisely shared at regularly arranged stakeholders’ fora. “If stakeholders are not convinced about what they are listened to, they will go silent” he posited further. In her contribution, resource person and NSW content enhancer, Valentina Mintah traced NSW journey back to strenuous and painstaking efforts, studies and stakeholders meetings held between April, 2012 and September 2012, especially from the first National Stakeholders Conference which was supported by UNECE, UNECA and the WCO, organized by the NCS and MAN to enable both the private and public sectors define the concept of the NSW.

“There have been a number of attempts at Single Window implementations around the world with a mixed bag of outcomes. Successful implementations such as Singapore, Senegal and Thailand have organically grown their Single Window environment by focusing on the streamlining of processes; empowerment of system operators and users; the inclusion of private sector in implementation activities; strong technical capacity; the creation of ICT systems owned by the nation; strong consultation framework and sound governance and management structures.

“To ensure a similar success story, if not better, we adopted a systematic approach of conducting a Feasibility Study by ensuring adequate focus was given to the 4Ps, which is People, Processes, Platform and Policy”, she highlighted, noting that the feasibility study involved days of desk research, countless stakeholder meetings and strategic site observations to ensure that the needs of the nation’s trade environment was fully captured, the gaps understood and a road map laid out to help in a collective attainment of vision.

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CAC Registers 245,000  SMEs Free Of Charge

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The Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) says it has registered more than 245,000 Small and Medium Enterp-rises  free of charge.
The Registrar-General, Alhaji Garba Abubakar,  said in Abuja on Wednesday that it did this with the approval of the Federal Government.
The Federal Government, he said, approved the free registration of 250,000 business names as part of its intervention to assuage the economic effect of Covid-19.
He said the Federal  Government paid 50 per cent of the cost of registration to CAC and more than 245,000 business names were consequently registered.
Abubakar explained that the process was electronic and applicants also got their certificates electronically.
He added that the numbers were divided between the 36 states of the federation and the FCT noting that Lagos, Abia and Kano States had the largest numbers.
He said free registration of 6, 606 business names was approved for 33 states while Abia, Lagos and Kano States would have 7, 906, 9,084 and 8,406 respectively.
Abubakar noted that aggregators were appointed and paid to collect SMEs information and submit same to CAC.
He explained that the commission provided special access for the aggregators for effective service delivery since they were responsible for scanning and uploading of documents.
He added that CAC had to take over from one of the aggregators appointed for two states but failed to deliver.
Abubakar said also that the intervention of CAC and appointment of substitute aggregators to take over in the two states sped up the process, already nearing completion.
“We are hoping that by end of September the exercise will come to an end,’’ he said.

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IPMAN Seeks Foreign Partnership For Robust Refinery Deal

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The Chairman, Rivers State Chapter of Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN),  Mr King Eppie, has said that he would be seeking the partnership of foreign bodies as part of his plans to strengthen the association.
Eppie said this when he spoke in a chat with newsmen in his office in Eleme, Eleme Local Government Area, Rivers State, Wednesday.
He pointed out that such plans would also encourage business growth especially to some of his members whom he said are  experiencing stormy business weather.
According to him, the challenging business condition was as a result of  non functional refineries in the country, stressing the need to seek for partnership.
He said that since its core business area was petroleum products, that his leadership would do all within its reach to improve the  system.
The Rivers IPMAN boss,  expressed hope that the ailing refineries in the country would bounce back to life.
“ I will be happy to see the refineries working again. Most of our members are suffering and business is no longer what it used to be, that’s why I want the refineries to come back to operation”, he said.
About the issue of legal battle in the association, he said that his team has been vindicated by the Apex court by declaring him the authentic chairman of IPMAN in Rivers State.
He recalled that the association was in a legal battle for about eight years, but expressed joy over its victorious end.
To those who were on the other side of the divide, he said that he has extended an olive branch to them as part of his plans to run an  all inclusive government.
“ The platform for those who went to court against us has been created for them to come back to the fold. IPMAN is one in the state and we are open to all, that is why we want everyone to come back”, he said.
The Tide learnt that the IPMAN chairman is  barely one week in office after years of legal battle that greeted the association as a result of leadership tussle.

By:King Onunwor

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1,818 MSMEs Benefit From Covid-19 Recovery Package In Delta

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No fewer than 1,818 Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) have benefited from Federal Government and the World Bank Covid-19 Action Recovery Economic Stimulus (NG-CARES) in Delta.
Governor Ifeanyi Okowa addressed the beneficiaries at the launch of funds disbursement in Asaba on Wednesday.
He commended the Federal Government and the World Bank for the partnership to provide succour for those affected by the pandemic in the country.
He said that now that the scheme had been domesticated in the state, the beneficiaries were in the first phase of the programme.
Okowa also lauded the Nigeria Governor’s Forum (NGF) for supporting the federal government to ensure that the programme was approved by the World Bank for implementation in Nigeria.
He also thanked the World Bank for the intervention and for working with state governments in the country towards cushioning the socio-economic effects of Covid-19 pandemic on the people, particularly the poor and vulnerable.
According to Okowa, today’s ceremony is a major step at putting MSMEs that are badly hurt by the pandemic on the path of recovery and growth.
He said this was “more so, with the disbursement of funds to the first set of 1,818 beneficiaries who have met the World Bank stipulated eligibility criteria within the initial six months.
“A total of 2,529 MSMEs are expected to receive grants to support post-covid-19 loans, operational costs and to enhance their IT capabilities.
“Indeed, we are glad to be part of the CARES programme of the Federal Government.
“The focus of intervention clearly aligns with the priority of the state government to give relief to those whose lives, businesses, jobs and means of livelihood have been distorted by the pandemic.
“The programme, which we have domesticated as the Delta CARES, is a two-year emergency recovery programme.
“It is aimed at supporting state governments’ budgeted programme of expenditures and interventions.
“It is to enable them to expand access to livelihood support, food security services, and grants for poor and vulnerable households and firms,” he said.
He said that the programme would also directly support 25,269 poor and vulnerable households with social transfers, basic services and livelihood grants.
The governor said it would as well support 13,976 farmers to boost food production and ensure smooth functioning of the food supply chain.
“The outlined figures are the targets stipulated by the World Bank, but do not preclude the State Government from scaling up if the need arises.
“It is my expectation that those charged with the implementation of Delta-CARES will be faithful in executing the mandate so that the desired results are achieved, bearing in mind that it is a Programme for Result (PforR),” Okowa said.
On his part, Dr Barry Pere-Gbe, Chairman, Steering Committee for Delta-CARES and State Commissioner for Economic Planning, commended Okowa for providing the funds for the programme.
Pere-Gbe was represented by the Commissioner for Youths Development, Mr Ifeanyi Egwunyenga.
He said that the main focus of the programme was to bring succour to residents whose means of livelihood had been disrupted by the impacts of Covid-19.
He said that the programme was hinged on three thematic area.

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