By Eromosele Abiodun
Customs agents in the country have called on the federal government to urgently put mechanism in place to review the Pre-Arrival Assessment Report (PAAR) currently being used by the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), so as to accommodate realities in present destination inspection operation regime.
In a petition addressed to President Muhammau Buhari, the agents said PAAR in its current form does not conform to international best practice and law of the land, especially as signatory Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA), the African Continental Free Trade Area agreement (AFCFTA) and the World Trade Organisation (WTO) convention.
President, National Council of Managing Directors of Licensed Customs Agents (NCMDLCA), the umbrella body of customs agents in Nigeria, Lucky Amiwero, in the petition stressed that the PAAR is not procedurally backed by law and its treatment.
“PAAR has no legal relevance with regards to pre-assessment procedures and treatment of import, as such goods are not pre-assessed before arrival and not inspected, which requires the select the principle of examination to be conducted with frequent lifting of value in contravention of the Customs and Excise Management (Amendment) Act 20 of 2003.
“As member of the Presidential Task force on the Reform of Nigeria Custom Service, member of additional 167 committees of the federal government, we find it expedient to draw the attention of government on our responsibility to conform with international best practice and law of the land, especially as signatory Trade Facilitation agreement The African Continental Free Trade Area agreement and other trade conventions.
“After eight years as member of presidential task force to reform the Nigeria Customs Service we noticed that the objective of setting the PAAR has not been met, as most of the propose feature are not realisable.”
The process, he added, was being duplicated in contravention of the Customs and Excise Management Act 20 of 2003 and the WTO convention on inspection of goods, “which duplicates process in the application and causes delays in the port.
All the objective of introducing the PAAR, has not been met as at today, which gives worry to the trading public.”
Amiwero, added that the PAAR process only contain documents submitted that was not physically inspected to generate report to give the backing of assessment based on the report, “which is actually documentary checks and information supplied by the importer without physical inspection, in clear contravention of WTO convention of import inspection and the Customs and Excise Management Act 20 of 2003, where value is lifted at will by the Service reference to the law on valuation.”
He added that the only law that is binding on the inspection and contains process and procedure for the conduct of inspection is covered under Section of the Pre-Shipment Act, which includes the issuance of Clean Report of Finding (CRF) that ascertains the inspection of goods conducted before shipment, which requires minimal inspection
The Pre-assessment arrival report, he said, “indicates that all formalities as to inspection of quality, quantity and value has been conducted and the Report is the final process of payment and collection of good by the importer/ Licensed Customs Agents, which is still subject to multiple interventions by the service in contravention of WCO Kyoto convention of customs core principle of Harmonisation and Simplification of Customs procedures Nigeria being a contracting party.”
He added: “Since the inception of Destination Inspection in 2006 till date, the inspection fees is drawn from the Section 3-(1) of the Pre-Shipment Act to service the Inspection scheme, which is still only the law for inspection of import of goods.
“The Pre-Arrival Assessment Report is procedurally not linked or tied to any law, it has no assessment or report content to process, as there is no report or assessment done, but only documentary information, which is not assessment or report and not qualify for international validation procedure.”