Stakeholders fret over neglect of single window policy
Concerned stakeholders in the maritime sector have expressed their displeasure about none implementation of the single window policy of the Federal Government.The Nigeria Single Window Trade Portal is a cross-government digital system that opens a new era for trade facilitation by offering a single portal for trade actors, both Nigerian and international, to access a full range of resources and standardized services from different Nigerian government agencies.
Stakeholders, who spoke at an industry forum on Ease of Doing Business in Lagos said: “The policy on single window on the clearing of goods should be fully implemented to discourage physical examination of cargo”.
In January last year, the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) and the Nigerian Customs Service (NCS) had said they were collaborating to introduce the much-awaited Single Window (SW) platform at the ports, but nothing on ground to confirm implementation.
In a communiqué signed by the organizer, Nwadinamuo Saint Augustine, the stakeholders expressed worry that “the single window operation is not yet operational despite the fact that Nigeria started the project before Ghana”.
According to them, the issue of physical examination of goods at Nigerian ports is also a major challenge as it encourages sharp practice and delay in doing business.
“That frequent breakdown and malfunctioning of scanners also delay the evacuation of goods from the ports. The too many documentations associated with export process is said to be affecting the export business in the country.
“The mounting of unapproved road blocks and harassment of cargo, truckers out of our various ports by Customs Officials such as the x-squad, CG Task Force, FOU and other security agents is also a major challenge to trade facilitation; as such check-points have increased tremendously
“The alarming high cost of doing business in our various seaports as a backlash, as it encourages inflation of goods and services as well as encourages unemployment as most shippers divert their goods to the ports of neighbouring countries.“Negative government policies, such as higher tariffs with specific mention of the auto policy has encouraged sharp practice among both government officials and stakeholders.encourage smuggling of vehicles as well as a drastic reduction of government revenue,” it stated.
Former National President of the National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF), Dr. Eugene Nweke, said for the Executive Order on Ease of Doing Business in the nation’s maritime industry to work effectively, the is the need for all stakeholders to adhere and promote monetary and tariffs /charges regulatory discipline, collaborate with the commercial regulator to end arbitrariness in charges and stabilize foreign exchange fluctuations and control.
He observed that support for the evolution of pricing systems would engender prudence in professional scales of charges and tariffs structures as well as sustain stakeholder engagements, negotiations and sensitization.The forum however asked the Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council (PEBEC) to task the contractor handling the two kilometers Apapa port access road to speed up the construction.
However, the management of Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) is enjoined to shift focus to trade facilitation instead of raking in higher revenue.The communiqué also stated key stakeholders in the maritime sector should be consulted before important policies and laws are being formulated, to avoid weak and poor policy implementation.
“Government should strengthen their various institutions and agencies so that they can effectively control, sanction and reward stakeholders who may breach such ethics.“Importers and clearing agents should practice good ethical standards by ensuring full compliance of government regulations in terms of proper declaration and full duty payment rather than engaging in sharp practices,” it sated.
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