By Ifeyinwa Obi

THE ACG, Zonal Coordinator, the Nigeria Customs Service, Zone D, Headquarters, Bauchi, Ukaigwe P.C has said that the introduction of Information Communication Technology in the Nigerian Customs activities has strengthened  efficiency in clearing.

Ukaigwe who dropped this hint in his presentation to the Nigerian Shippers Council seminar with the theme, ‘Facilitation of international trade through ICT” said that the Comptroller-General of the Nigeria Customs Service, Abdullahi Dikko Inde, has risen to the challenge of integrity in the service and was moving from the orthodox method to a modern environment of internet business and investment which will in return bring about national development.

Role of internet in documentation

Speaking on the role of the internet in documentation and clearing of cargo, he  told the gathering that  the  application of internet in documentation and clearance of cargo  was  pivotal in socio-economic development of Nigeria.

The ASYCUDA  or Information and Communication Technology, ICT, involvement to facilitate trade, according to him  has been identified as powerful tool in promoting the exchange of goods across borders.

Admitting  that the implementation of the system may be costly both for government and businesses in developing countries like Nigeria,  he said that  past experience has shown that over time the financial benefits in many cases have exceeded cost.

While it is evident that ICT is assuming an increasingly important role in modern time, he said, “Customs administrations, the priorities, expectations, and experiences prompted Customs to recognize the significant advantages of using technology-based solution to improve its operational efficiency.

“It designed and developed its own ICT systems, tailored to meet national and international best trade practices and standards. This precipitated the adoption of e-services by the Nigeria Customs Service for efficient service delivery.”

Concept of PAAR

The concept of PAAR, he said  is based on Pre-arrival assessment of Goods which is the direction most Customs administrations all over the world are going.

Explaining the whole idea behind PAAR, he explained  that a lot of interventions could be done before the goods arrive Nigeria.

This, he noted, allows  less time and cost  spent in clearing the cargo when it eventually arrives.

The interventions, according to him,  include the fact that Customs wants to ascertain the country of origin, the value of goods etc and based on these parameters, Customs will arrive at what level of risk the cargo presents and this will inform the level of intervention – whether to subject it to full physical examination or to scan.

“This is the best practice that other Customs Administrations are using in line with the provisions of the revised Kyoto convention on facilitation of trade.

“The real time issuance of PAAR is however, dependent on the integrity and honesty of importers. There will be delay if documents filed by them do not conform with all fiscal policies and guidelines.

“For example, it takes only six hours for the completion of processing of imported cargo documents for issuance of PAAR provided importers make genuine declaration and have resolved all issues they may have with other agencies of government involved in one way or the other in the cargo clearance’ he further explained.

According to him,  ICT in NCS is currently provided by the Nigeria Integrated Customs Information System (NICIS).

This system, he said  is made up of the ASYCUDA  and Risk Management System and a number of modules developed by the NCS and a Service provider- the Webb Fontaine, which are collectively known as Trade World Manager (TWM), which at present includes modules for risk assessment.

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