The executive secretary of the Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC), Barrister Hassan Bello, has raised the alarm over under-declaration of cargoes at the nation’s seaports by Importers.
Speaking at the just – concluded workshop organised by the Union of African Shippers Council (UASC) in collaboration with the United Nations Conference for Trade and Development (UNCTAD) and hosted by the Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC), Bello said about 70 per cent of the cargoes imported into the Nigerian Seaports were under- declared.
Bello further stated that the adoption of technology and electronic platform in the Nigerian seaports would check the challenge of sharp practices at the ports.
According to him, plans were underway in Nigeria to introduce the National Single Window Project which is an electronic platform to which all stakeholders in the port system would be connected and which is bound to check all forms of unwholesome practices like under-declaration of goods by importers and customs agents.
While he advised that shippers and freight forwarders must learn to be more sincere in their transactions in the import trade and at the seaports, he however said that the introduction of mobile scanners in the examination of goods by the Customs would also assist to detect and check fraudulent practices such under declaration and concealment among others.
However, Bello tasked the Nigerian Customs Service (NCS) to de-emphasized revenue generation and emphasize trade facilitation in its operations. The Shippers Council boss said that the observance of the virtue would not only increase the patronage of Nigerian seaports by shippers, customs agents and shipping companies but would enhance development at the ports and make their operations to be at par with obtains in ports in advanced countries.
Bello was of the view that while the issue of insincerity on the part of some shippers may have made customs to be putting more emphasis on 100 per cent cargo examination with a view to detecting sharp practices as well as ensuring that the federal government is not robbed of its revenue on cargoes, he however emphasize that the Customs would need to improve its acquisition of electronic way of running its operations.
The Shippers’ Council executive secretary disclosed that the fact that the seaports is a community with different stakeholders, there is a dire need for the Customs to have a good collaboration with the Council which is an economic regulator of the ports to enhance the synergy that would enhance the development of the Customs operations and that of the seaports and the maritime sector.
While a Customs representative at the workshop was of the view that the Service has been promoting trade facilitation and not just laying premium on revenue target, Bello however said that there was the need for the Customs to still improve on its level of advancement of trade facilitation even as it should cooperate more with the Shippers Council.
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