NIGERIA: Stakeholders Call for Re-introduction of Provisional Release of Goods at the Ports

Worried about the delay  suffered  by importers and freight forwarders before taking delivery of their goods  at the ports as a result of the regime of  Pre-Arrival  Assessment  Report (PAAR) ,  stakeholders have called  for the re-introduction of provisional release for all goods arriving the country.
PAAR  is a new cargo clearance system which  was introduced by the  Nigeria Customs Service (NCS)  as a replacement for  Risk Assessment  Report (RAR) when the organisation took over  Destination  Inspection  regime from  service providers  in  December  1, 2013.
Since its introduction,  the  system has suffered some hitches leading to  delay in goods  clearance at the ports,  in what some top officials of the Customs have  described as sabotage against the Service.
However, stakeholders who spoke to THISDAY weekend called on the Service  to consider as very important the need to reintroduce provisional release pending when the regime of PAAR is perfected.
Importers and freight forwarders who spoke to THISDAY  in Lagos argued that provisional release, which the Service introduced shortly after taking over destination inspection should be allowed to run alongside the new scheme as a panacea to check delay in goods delivery at the ports.
The Customs had suspended provisional release of goods in February 14, this year.
A freight  forwarder,  Chief  Leonard  Okezie argued that as far as he is concerned,  the difference discovered after a provisional release had been granted to an importer can always be reconciled, adding that this way, the Service would have helped in trade facilitation.
Tin Can Island Customs Controller, Mr  Jibrin Zakare, who spoke to THISDAY  however  said that the Service was equal to the task as far  as Destination Inspection regime was concerned.
Zakare  traced the problem of PAAR in Lagos to sabotage, adding that the Service on taking over  DI  December  last year had to first of all clear the backlog of  99,000 RARs left over by the former service providers.
Zakare who assured stakeholders that most of the problems are being tackled by the management of the Customs, however called on importers and their agents to always submit correct documents that will facilitate in fast processing of their jobs.
He said that any document that has a problem may not be accepted by the system, adding that this was among the challenges the Service has been experiencing.
Zakare hinted that part of the efforts to address the issue of transmission of PAAR would be the introduction of a  new platform in the system this week.

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