• Thursday, February 22, 2024
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BusinessDay

FCMB partners Customs on trade facilitation, PAAR implementation

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Following the hitches trailing Pre-Arrival Assessment Report (PAAR) since its introduction in December, which has made the clearing processes at the ports more cumbersome, resulting in high demurrage and storage charges for importers, the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) has begun moves to ensure that the new cargo clearing regime is import-friendly.

Consequently, the NCS is partnering with First City Monument Bank (FCMB) and other financial institutions for speedy processing and implementation of PAAR in order to ensure fast-track clearance of cargo and reduced cost of doing business at the ports.

Speaking at the FCMB International Trade Customer Forum tagged ‘Pre-Arrival Assessment Report (PAAR) – Challenges: Present and Future’ held in Lagos recently, Dikko Inde Abdullahi, comptroller-general of Customs, said the Customs, having encountered some anomalies in the processing of PAAR, began moves to rectify “initial implementation hitches”.

Abdullahi, who was represented by Adewale Adeniyi, Customs public relations officer, disclosed that Customs had intensified efforts to address perceived initial hiccups through the training and re-training of officers, aggressive outreach programme, partnership with financial institutions, and establishment of an effective e-customs platform, among others, to fast-track processing and issuance of import documents.

“Despite the initial hitches associated with projects of such magnitude, PAAR system is now stronger and fully stabilised. In the last three months (June to August, 2014), total PAARs issued stood at 72,898. This represents a monthly average of over 24,000 PAARs, compared to a monthly average of 9,000 PAARs issued between December 2013 and February 2014,” he said.

“FCMB’s effort will help drive further customer engagement and awareness. Being the first port of call, financial institutions are strategically located at the heart of the Buy-Export-Import-Delivery-Chain because of the bouquet of services they provide and I am happy that this will in turn grow the FCMB brand presence and reduce costs associated with international trade management,” he added.

Commenting further on what NCS is doing to improve on PAAR and to address the yearnings of Nigerians, especially the consignees, the Customs boss revealed that they had dedicated 5,000 officers to PAAR implementation so as to achieve desired results, but admonished importers to supply detailed information on consignments for easier and quicker documentation and clearance.

Earlier, Segun Odusanya, deputy managing-director, said the international trade customer forum was organised to provide positive solutions to FCMB customers’ businesses and lives.

“Our alignment with the Nigeria Customs Service in organising the forum was in a bid to help identify and address issues within international trade and to close the gap between customers and regulatory bodies,” he said.

He, however, listed some of the systems developed and implemented by FCMB to support its customers in international trade business, including automation of the entire international trade process, seamless integration with CBN’s electronic single window trade portal, prompt and effective initiation of transactions and instant notification on all trade transactions among others.

RAZAQ AYINLA