The Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister for the Economy, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, has expressed satisfaction with the Nigeria Custom Service implementation of Pre-Arrival Assessment Report (PAAR).
Okonjo-Iweala, who is also the Chairman of the Customs Board, made this known when she briefed newsmen shortly after the first meeting of the board in Abuja on Thursday.
The Federal Government had in December 2012, terminated the seven-year contract it signed with three firms handling destination inspection services for the country.
The services were subsequently given to the Customs Service by the government.
The minister said that takeover of destination inspection by the Customs had been “the dream’’ of Nigerian, adding that it was made possible by the Federal Government’s reforms.
She said that the board meeting was strategic to the achievement of the reform objectives by ensuring that the reform was monitored to meet the yearnings of the private sector.
“The board discussed the reforms of the Customs, among which is the taking over of the destination inspection by the Customs, which have been the objective and the dream of many Nigerians.
“That has happened and we want the reform to be complete, including the reform of the human resource, which also includes training and the technology that underpins it and taking over of that function.
“We also talked about monitoring this reform to make sure that it delivers to the private sector.
“So far, the takeover seems to be relatively smooth as telephone lines are opened to the users to enable us tackle any complaint that arises,” she added.
Okonjo-Iweala also said the meeting focused on the new strategy to fight smuggling by strengthening the customs enforcement responsibility to perform its duties effectively.
According to her, the new policy of the government is to enhance revenue generation and the Customs is one of such agencies that generate revenue for the government.
“The customs is one of the agencies of the government for revenue generation; we have FIRS and the oil sector from which the country generate its revenue.
“If we decide to increase or reduce tariff, it has impact on customs ability to generate revenue. Within the context of the government’s economic policies, customs must do its best for stronger performance this year, based on the policies laid down.’’
Similarly, Kola Jamodu, President, Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) and a member of the Customs Board, also commended the Customs for the level so far recorded in the implementation of PAAR.
Jamodu confirmed that the new policy allowed importers to carry out self-assessment and commended the service for being proactive.
“Since we are the users of the destination inspection, I want to confirm that we were surprise at the level of competence of the customs in the handling of PAAR so far.
“The only area that requires a few fine-tuning, which we also discussed at the meeting is the area of transition from Risk Assessment Report (RAR) to PAAR and the explanation we got from the Custom is quite satisfactory.
“The delay at the ports in clearing goods had been taken care of and the importers are now allowed to do a self-assessment in clearing their goods subject to post-audit,” he said.