The Comptroller General of Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Alhaji Inde Dikko Abdullahi has said the service has provided two central computers for traders in Balogun market trade fair complex.
The computers, which are to serve as enlightenment tools to aid the understanding of a new Customs regime known as the Nigerian Trade Hub, were donated at the ultra-modern markets yesterday in Lagos.
The NCS in conjunction with the Ministry of Finance, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) had taken a bold step to develop interactive trade portals for the facilitation of trade, decongestion of the ports and transparency in business transactions in Nigeria.
Speaking at a sensitisation forum to educate the public on the introduction of its twin trade portals known as the Nigerian Trade Hub (NTH) and the Pre-Arrival Assessment Report (PAAR), NCS boss said it was aware it needed to transcend higher in facilitating trade in accordance with international best practices.
The NTH is an interactive and intelligent tool used by importers and exporters to understand rules of importation, classification of commodities, rates of duties, freight advice, and government statutory agencies responsible for licensing, currency exchange rates, and market place advertising to showcase goods available in Nigeria.
Any lawful trade that must be carried out at the cross borders must be done in accordance with the prerequisites of NTH.
The PAAR on the other hand warehouses information needed in international trade, whereas the NTH provides a counterpart local information portal for Nigerian businesses, including business registry that shows the names, addresses and telephone contacts of licensed agents, terminal operators.
In the same vein, the NTH is a compendium that gives a wide range of information about NCS formalities with easy-to-understand composite trade guide.
NCS have trained 300 hundred officers in the past one year. The officers are to work on rotational bases to control the trade portals and provide assistance through their hot lines to the public.
It is believed that upon submitting the correct information on commodities the system can generate PAAR, within six hours.
Abdullahi maintained that NCS has the capability to handle the new regime as it has qualified personnel to ensure power sustainability, efficient logistics and uninterrupted communications systems.
According to the NCS Comptroller General, the service boasts of high capacity generators to tackle power outage. The provision of batteries reinforces the idea and the setting of the internet on off-line mode makes the regime supreme to internet failure and non-connectivity. There is also a move from manual operations to seamless operations all embedded in the platform.
At the meeting, stakeholders raised the question of dynamism and change in government policies. It is believed that PAAR and NTH would not be static but dynamic creating room for updates and improvements that might arise through government agencies such as NAFDAC, SON who might want to re-introduce regulatory policies in the future.
Abdullahi who was accompanied on the visit by the top echelon of the service assured stakeholders especially importers and exporters that NCS has enough men and officers that have also been trained to take over from Scanning Service Providers (SSPs) who verify goods entering or departing the ports.
He added that the officers now have hands-on experience on how to operate scanners at ports of arrival, having understudied the system under the SSPs namely, Cotecna, Global Scan.
The SSPs who have worked with the NCS for over 30 years were alleged to have not provided reliable scanners as some of the 21 scanners supplied in 7 years most of them were obsolete. Places like Warri, Illorin and Borno were never supplied of such equipment.