Customs processes killing businesses, investments at seaports — LCCI

THE Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) has called for urgent and imperative reforms for the Nigeria Customs Service, in order to address what it called challenging Customs processes and procedures for clearance of cargo at the port.

The chamber made this call recently in a statement signed by its Director General, Dr Muda Yusuf.

According to the LCCI DG, “Customs processes and procedures for the clearance of cargo at the ports is one of the biggest challenges currently faced by the business community.  It is severely hurting investors and adversely affecting economic recovery efforts.

“The situation calls for urgent intervention and reforms of the Nigerian Customs service. There are issues of undue delays, weak application of technology, arbitrariness in valuation, impunity, uncertainty of international trade transactions, cost escalation, negative investment climate perception, ineffective mode of seeking redress, pervasive human interface, among others.”

According to Yusuf, the business community is compelled to interface with too many units of the Nigerian Customs Service and other government agencies which make doing business extremely difficult and frustrating.

He listed the units as the Pre-Arrival Assessment Report office, Valuation units, Examination, Releasing, Unblocking, DC Report, Stamping Unit, Exit Gate, Enforcement.

“Other government agencies that businesses have to contend with at the ports include the National Agency for Food Drug Administration and Control, the Standards Organisation of Nigeria, Plant Quarantine, State Security Service, the Police Anti Bomb Squad, and the Port Police.

“Outside the ports, importers are confronted with the Federal Operations Unit of the Customs, Customs Strike Force, and the Customs Police.

“Encounters by the private sector with these numerous agencies impose unbearable burden on importers and investors in terms of costs, time, and bureaucracy,” the LCCI DG added.

The chamber also observed that there were also recurring issues of valuation of imports and Harmonised System Code classification of products.

Yusuf said, PAAR issued by Customs headquarters are frequently queried by Customs operatives at the ports.

“Many businesses have suffered severe disruptions in their investment projections because of large variations arising from revision of value and re-classification of imports by the PAAR office at the Customs headquarters and the Customs units at the ports.

“This phenomenon has become persistent and hurting investors.  It has also become a major source of uncertainty for businesses.”

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