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Business community tells Custom to eliminate corruption, delay



Tin-Can Customs generate N130bn in 6 months
Stakeholders in the business community have urged the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) to eliminate corruption, ensure transparency and timeliness to enhance trade.
The stakeholders made the call at an interactive forum with the Nigeria Customs Service on Thursday in Lagos.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the forum was organised by the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI).
Mr Donald Uche, Chairman, LCCI, Freight Forwarders Trade Group, said corruption was rife in Customs examination, value assessment, cargo clearance and stoppage of released goods at the exit gates of the ports.
He said the activities of freight forwarders had been hindered by the challenges which persisted at the ports in spite of series of complaints.
“Many of the officials frustrate our operations and delay processes, if they are not given bribe at every table that the documents would pass through.
“The issue is not restricted to Customs Service alone.“Other agencies like the National Drug Law EnforcementAgency (NDLEA), Department of State Services (DSS) and the Police, also hold us to ransom at the ports,” he said.
Uche advocated for review and reduction in the number of agencies involved in the releaseof cleared goods at the ports, toease the business clime.
Mr Verkey Verghese, Managing Director, Jawa Pharmaceutical, urged the Customs to step up policing of the borders, to checkmate influx of fake and substandard pharmaceutical products into the country.
Verghese, also a Vice-President, LCCI, said that fake pharmaceutical products posed a threat to the nation’s health sector, and that of the citizens.
Mr Femi Awogbade, a freight forwarder, said that 48-hour cargo clearance at the ports was still a mirage, adding that meeting cargo clearance deadline was the only way to decongest the ports.
“We are having serious challenge with export at Tin Can because it takes longer time to move goods from the port than the Apapa Port.
“There is a deliberate delay and elongation of process, to force people to pay more money before the goods are moved,” he said.
Awogbade urged the Customs to embrace transparency in its operation, by updating its website with relevant information on procedures to be followed, for movement of goods.
Mrs Nike Akande, President, LCCI, said that efficient ports service and elimination of barriers was critical to promote trade facilitation and boost government revenue.
Retired Col. Hameed Ali, Comptroller-General, NCS, said the agency would work toward fast tracking clearance of goods, promoting best practice and reducing corruption in the system.
Ali, represented by Comptroller, Tin-can Island Port, Bashar Yusuf, said the port generated N1 billion per day as revenue, inspite of the economic recession.
He said the service would utilise technologies and intelligence gathering to fast track clearing issues and reduce smuggling activities in the country. (NAN)

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