The Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) has called for the urgent intervention and reform of the Nigerian Custom Services in the bid to address the anomalies that characterise the processes and procedures for the clearance of cargo at the ports.

Dr. Muda Yusuf, LCCI’s Director-General, in a statement made available , said one of the biggest challenges currently faced by the business community is the unfavourable procedures for the clearance of cargo at the ports.

He said: “It is severely hurting investors and adversely affecting economic recovery efforts. The situation calls for urgent intervention and reforms of the Nigerian Customs service. 

“There are issues of undue delays, weak application of technology, arbitrariness in valuation, impunity, uncertainty of international trade transactions, cost escalation, negative investment climate perception, ineffective mode of seeking redress, pervasive human interface, among others.

“The business community is compelled to interface with too many units of the Nigerian customs service and other government agencies which makes doing business extremely difficult and frustrating. It also predisposes the system to brazen extortionist practices”. 

He added that the units include the Pre-Arrival Assessment Report (PAAR) office, Valuation units, Examination, Releasing, Unblocking, DC Report, Stamping Unit, Exit Gate and Enforcement. 

Other government agencies that businesses have to contend with at the ports include NAFDAC, SON, Plant Quarantine, SSS, Police Anti Bomb Squad, and the Port Police. 

 “Outside the ports, importers are confronted with Federal Operations Unit of the customs, Customs Strike Force, and the Customs Police.

“Encounters by the private sector with these numerous agencies imposes unbearable burden on importers and investors in terms of costs, time, and the bureaucracy”, he said. 

Yusuf explained that there are also recurring issues of valuation of imports and HS Code classification of products. 

“PAAR Issued by customs headquarters is frequently queried by customs operatives at the ports. Many businesses have suffered severe disruptions in their investment projections because of large variations arising from revision of value and re-classification of imports by the PAAR Office at the Customs headquarters and the Customs units at the ports. 

“This phenomenon has become persistent and hurting investors. It has also become a major source of uncertainty for businesses”. 

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