Customs Brokers and Freight Forwarders have faulted the Federal Government’s recently approved $3.1 billion contract for Customs e-modernisation. They are of the opinion that apart from being swaddled in secrecy, there is the need to protect the economy and security of the country.
Former National President and current Head of Research/Policy Group of the National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders, NAGAFF, Eugene Nweke, said though the government has the right to concession any of its institutions or operations, certain measures must be put in place to ensure efficiency.
According to him, “Government must take adequate care to ensure that the right public enterprise is concessioned at the right price, subjected to the right regulatory regime with the right competitive tariff, else the essence of concession may be defeated, as it will never achieve 100 percent performance in the long run.
“Suffice it to state that, fair competitive services and operational tariffs will be eroded leaving room for private sector monopoly which is more dangerous than public sector monopoly, thereby promoting inflation and capital flight via cash repatriation to foreign economy.
“Our bitter experience with the Pre-shipment Inspection and Destination Inspection Agents easily comes to mind, just like the prevailing unhealthy situations in our port operations.
“We make bold to also state that, from our practical experience with the port concession; lack of competition and ineffective regulations (due to non-firm support of the government) under a private port sector regime breeds conformism, bureaucratic red tapes (operational delays, haggling, high-handedness, etc), inflation, corruption (extortion and exploitations).
“From the above explanation, it is not an overstatement, to add up that, the seven concession indicators (7 rights ) is also evidently absent from the e-customs modernization concession processes, as portrayed by the wise counsel of the attorney general of the Federation to the Honorable Minister of Finance and the report of the joint committees of the House of Representatives, warning against a possible payment of a $2.8billion claims in an ongoing litigation between the government and rival group of investors, all hunting for Nigeria Customs Service functions, for commercial purposes.”
Similarly, former National President and Chief Executive Officer of Skelas Group, Olayewola Shittu, said that the fact that they did not involve stakeholders make it seem like they have something to hide.
“I do not know anything about them, let me be sincere. That is why I said that they are making the wrong turn, just like they did during the concessioning of the ports; they are not carrying the stakeholders along and you want the stakeholders to participate; is it fare? “The e-modernization of Customs today, nobody knows except people who got it through the back door. Nobody knows about the implications or benefits. If it involves improved training of Customs officers or sustaining training, then what happens to the Customs Brokers who are going to work with them?
“The success of the Pre-arrival Assessment Report, PAR, today was that the Customs management then got us involved and that is why it has been sustainable, apart from human interference that has been made almost irrelevant now.
“This e-transaction what do we know about it, is it modelled after America, is it modelled after Britain, are Customs officers going to be involved?
“Because you cannot do an e- conclusion without somebody certifying price, quantity and load it on the ship, then we have nothing doing here.
“You can as well bring the ship and offload but there are security implications because most of these vessels that are carrying the goods that should have been clean (in invented coma and close), can also be trans-shipped through another port and another it introduced?” he stated.
Kindly Follow Us On Twitter