June 17, 2009

FG pays N51.8billion to scanning service providers

By Godwin Oritse
The Federal; Government may have paid N51.8 billion to the three scanning service providers involved in the Inspection Destination project namely Cotecna, SGS and Globalscan for services provided since the scheme commenced three and half years ago.

President Yar Adua

President Yar Adua

The amount Vanguard gathered were paid to the service providers from the one percent Comprehensive Import Supervision Scheme (CISS) collected from importers on behalf of the government.

It was gathered that while Cotecna got the largest chunk of N27billion, SGS got N18billion and the only indigenous service provider Global-scan got only N6.8billion.

The heads of the scanning services providing firms who were also on the entourage of the Task Force on Customs Reforms who visited facilities of the Nigeria Custom Service refused to comment when cornered by Vanguard.
It would be recalled that about three years ago the Federal Government dumped the Pre-shipment Inspection Scheme for Destination Inspection to make the cargo clearing process more efficient.

Operators  in the Nigerian maritime industry vehemently opposed government decision to contract the entire scheme to Cotecna protesting the failure of Cotecna in the  Pre-shipment inspection scheme.

The destination inspection  project is meant to last for seven years on the Built Operate and Transfer (BOT) basis as the government has three and half years to take over the operation of the scheme.

Although, Vanguard could not ascertain the total amount collected as one percent of CISS, but operators are however of the opinion that providers of scanning services are collecting huge sums of monies foe services not provided.

Even the Task Force on Customs Reforms was not too impressed by the level of scanning services provided by these firms and urged them to improve on their services so as to justify their pay. From indication, the three scanning service providers would have collected over N100billion in seven as their contract with government expires in mid 2013

Mean hundreds of officers of the Nigeria Customs Service are currently being trained on the operations of these scanning devices with a view to taking over the operations at the expiration of the contract.