Customs deepens reform

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*’Single window will fast track economic development’

BY UDEME CLEMENT

In line with the on-going reforms in Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), the Murtala Muhammed Area Command (MMA Command) has trained about 85 participants, which include agents, airport operators, media practitioners, ICT operators on extant rules safeguarding Customs clearing procedures. The three-day training, which attracted stakeholders from various organisations, covered change management, compliance, bond/licensing, risk management, Customs and Excise Management Act (CEMA), import procedure, ICT, documentation, core Customs functions, valuation, rules of origin (R.O.O) and airport/baggage declaration.

Speaking at the opening ceremony in Lagos , the Customs Area Controller (CAC) of the Command, Comptroller Charles Edike, said, “Change management was designed to enhance e-payment, e-clearing and e-processes relevant to core Customs functions. Lack of compliance is the major reason we have delay in the system, because giving a wrong value poses a serious challenge to Customs as the duty is computed through proper valuation of items. It is also imperative for the stakeholders to know what we do and how we manage the risks involved in the clearing procedures. We do not want a situation where people declare airport baggage as household item and electronics as personal effects”.

During the practical class, the facilitator, Aliyu Saidu, who talked on change management, explained, “Training is fundamental to economic growth and development. Challenges in the borders spurred Customs to map out efficient strategies to tackle such challenges. Customs is faced with demands arising from globalisation of trade. There is the need for effective security and control of international supply chain in globalisation of business trade. Today we have global Customs network, better management of borders, which include seaports and airports.”

He went on, “Capacity building helps to deepen Customs understanding of global supply chains and new technology to strength our partnerships. Using modern technology becomes very imperative because now International trade is key driver for economic development.  The global landscape is complex and highly sensitive to external drivers such as increase in volumes and complexities of international trade, new business models and requirement. Others include increased security threats and organised crime”.

He continued, “The challenges for government include curbing terrorism, promoting socio-economic development as well as providing security for the citizens. The traditional roles of a new dynamic Customs include cross-border movement of goods to combat smuggling and to secure borders, while ensuring facilitation of legitimate trade. These promote certainty, predictability in risk management and security to support to trading system in the country. As a result, the changes increase high level of modernisation and developmental reforms taking place in the organisation, which results in changes that effects staff and major stakeholders. In order for the organisation to adapt to new practices and initiatives, it is generally accepted that effective management of change minimises pitfalls and speeds the return to a normal and improved performance.”

His words: “Compliance implies conforming to stipulated rules and legal regulations to enhance productivity. The benefits for compliance include speedy clearance of goods, predictability of outcome, good ethical behaviour, transparent procedures and increased productivity as well as economic growth in the long-run. For non-compliant, there are high risk of detention and economic risk to the country. We are advising agents and travellers to comply with the roles because we are making non-compliance very expensive.”

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