Okonjo-Iweala Hails Customs’ Destination Inspection Preparation

OkonjoElated by the software procured by the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) for the full take over of Destination Inspection services in Nigerian ports, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, coordinating minister of the economy and minister of finance has given the Dr. Dikko Inde Adullahi-led service approval to test run its Pre Arrival Assessment Report (Paar) in preparatory to take-off of destination inspection. This, according to her will be run parallel with that of service providers.

Expressing satisfaction with the on-going reforms in NCS,  Okonjo-Iweala, who met with the board of the service, hinted that “in a few months, the service would take full charge of all its responsibilities”.

Speaking further, she said “I think from what I hear that it is going to be relatively okay. It is not easy though, I do not think there is any organisation that goes through a transition period without some pains. I think the customs is handling itself fairly well and I count on the comptroller general to ensure a smooth transition. And it is only a couple of more months, two or three more months to be precise and customs is in charge. So am sure that everybody is gearing up”, she explained in an interactive section with journalists in Abuja.

Okonjo-Iweala dismissed media reports that the December 2013 date for the service providers to fully hand over Destination Inspection services to the Nigeria Customs Service will be postponed. “These are all kind of false stories and I do not focus on that. I do not work that way, I just do my job and when the time comes, the evidence will show for itself”, she added.

Giving credence to the minister of finance submission, Wale Adeniyi, an assistant comptroller of customs and the service image-maker, said Okonjo-Iweala has given the approval that the customs Paar should replace Risk Assessment Report (RAR) currently being done by the service providers.

Adeniyi who spoke in a forum in a Lagos, a day after the minister of finance gave them a pass mark hinted that the scheme is aimed at building a new customs that is geared towards a paperless regime. He however alerted stakeholders to expect hiccups and human factor that will delay the smooth operation of the scheme.

According to him: “During the test running, we are going to run it parallel to what the service providers are doing now. It is going to be a parallel service so that we will futurise the ethics associated with the switching off of RAR and the switching on of Paar. So there is going to be minor hiccups, stakeholders should expect this. The purpose of this test running is to achieve a seamless transmission which is a period of six months. I remember in 2005 and 2006 when RAR started with the service providers, as established as we are, we had some human factors. But after that, we started crawling and then we started walking. So with Paar, we will have some initial hiccups. But with your support and active collaboration, we are very sure we will overcome”.

The news of the coordinating minister of the economy giving the service a pass mark and approving the test running of Paar side by side with the service providers RAR spread like wide fire in the maritime sector as stakeholders praised the stance of Okonjo-Iweala concerning destination inspection in the Nigerian ports.

Particularly, Eugene Nweke, President, National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (Nagaff) said the move is in the right direction. He is emphatic that the customs will not fail Nigerians. “With the software procured by the Nigeria customs Service and with the trained personnel the service has, like the minister said ‘the evidence will show for itself’.

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