NEPC flays Apapa Customs over export drive
The Nigerian Customs may have continued to be in the web as regards the allegations of frustrating the National Single Window agenda of the Federal Government.
Just few weeks after the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, accused the Customs of the allegation, the Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC) has also accused the Apapa Command of NCS of frustrating the efforts to boost the nation’s export drive.
Speaking at a stakeholders’ meeting held at the Apapa Comand, Lagos, the Assistant Director of Compliance, Monitoring and Enforcement, Mrs Ifeora Celibe, alleged that the Command is more interested in importation while discouraging people that are interested in exports.
According to her, this move is contradicting the Federal Government’s economic diversification and conservation of foreign reserve.
“The Customs appears to be doing everything to frustrate exporters, they are only interested in imports. The Federal Government is making effort to diversify the economy and it is doing everything to encourage export in other to conserve foreign reserve. But the Customs is only interested in imported goods for obvious reasons.”
Celibe also appealed to the federal government to reinstate the Export Expansion Grant (EEG) that was suspended by the previous administration.
She however promised to assist the Customs in areas where assistance are needed to ensure that export trade are priortised.
The Customs Area Comptroller of Apapa (Area One) Command, Willy Egbudin said that the Customs is commited to facilitating export trade.
He said as part its commitment, a Deputy Comptroller assigned to be in charge of the export seat in Apapa.
“We are doing our best to encourage export. But we have to do our job effectively. Some of these exporters do a lot of things that smears this country’s name. Recently, we inspected a container and found hard drugs under the products they were exporting to South Africa. This is one of the many challenges that we face,” he said.
Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi had during the commissioning the Command, Control, Communication, and Intelligence System (CCCIS) accused the Customs of frustrating all efforts by the Federal Government to establish a Single Window Platform for all port operations.
Amaechi openly accused customs officers of corruption, blaming their activities for the reason importers have abandoned Nigerian ports for ports of neighbouring countries.
He said: “There is a Presidential approval (for the single window), but Customs is saying no. Why is America doing it, why is Benin Republic doing it, why are all ports in West Africa doing it except Nigeria? Is it that we are the most efficient customs in the world? Or does it mean that everybody in the world is honest, except Nigeria?”
“Currently, all we are doing at the port is manual and it would not last for long. Very soon, Nigerians will protest against the seaport because people are now importing through Benin Republic, Niger Republic that use to import through Nigeria is now importing through Benin Republic because we are doing both official charges and unofficial charges.
“Goods in Nigeria are too expensive because, beyond the cost of production, we are adding our own charges”“What the Customs is doing now is not single window. We want to have a national single window, but we want Customs to agree that they would key into it, because any national single window without Customs is not a single window,” he said.
Amaechi explained that when it is finally on stream, the single window is going to eradicate multiple checks on cargo manifests by various agencies at the port and human contacts at the port will be eliminated.
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