Customs Cuts Down Inspection Hours In Ports, Airports As Adeosun Tasks DGCs, AU Commission On 0.2% Import Levy
By Ossom Raphael
Abuja – The 1st extra ordinary meeting of the African Union, sub-committee of Directors General of Customs has opened in Abuja.
The 3-day meeting is expected to help in developing policies for enhanced intra and inter Africa trade.
Comptroller-General of Nigeria Customs, Hameed Ali (Rtd), said over 70 per cent automation level has been achieved in cutting down inspection hours of imported items and papers processing at ports and airports to ease business operations.
Col. Ali, explained that the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) has achieved much in his 18 month in office so far.
“If you have been following the trend of Ease of Doing Business initiated by the Vice President, the Customs is key to that. We have reduced the hours of inspection and physical examination; we have also reduced paper processing from 17 to 10″, Col Ali explained.
The Customs Boss, recalled that since the decision to hold the meeting in Harare, Zimbabwe in November 2016, the service had been mobilising personnel and materials to provide a conducive environment and a befitting welcome to make it most successful.
According to Col. Ali, the meeting would afford African continent the opportunity to occupy the rightful position in the WCO within the administrative and political hierarchy and exert an authority to influence policies that will be beneficial to the continent and enhance the intra-African trade.
Declaring meeting open, Nigeria’s Finance, Minister, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, tasked Director Generals of Customs and African Union Commission to take on board the issue of 0.2 per cent import levy and come out with clear guidelines for implementation by all member states as a permanent source of funding activities of the Commission.
The Minister said Africa cannot continue to settle for the position of the biggest world’s buyer without selling to the world market in return.
She said the continent must come to the trade table as an equal partner that is buying and selling in order to correct the age-long embarrassment that has made its economy vulnerable.
“I hope that the conversation would be deep, I hope they would be robust, I hope that they would be patriotic to Africa. We need an African focus.
“We cannot continue to be the world’s biggest market for anybody who wants to sell anything. We need to come to the trade table as equal partners, selling as well as buying. And we must correct some historical embarrasses that have made our economies very vulnerable.” she explained.
Secretary General of WCO, Mr Kunio Mikuriya lauded the initiators of the meeting as well as Nigeria’s effort at border security saying that improved trade facilitation is only achievable with enhanced security at the borders.
The meeting is theme: “Entering into force of the World Trade Organization Trade Facilitation Agreement: Implication for African Customs Administrations “