Customs asset declaration exercise in slow take-off

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Two of the 11 commands of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) in Lagos State have submitted their nominal roll to the Code of Conduct Bureau in Lagos for the asset declaration exercise.
The State Director of the Bureau, Mr Ezekiel Olusoji, made the
disclosure in an interview as maritime activities closed on Friday.
Olusoji, however, did not disclose the two commands that had submitted their nominal roll.

He said the other nine commands were set to submit their nominal rolls, adding that the agency would start giving customs officers forms to fill.

“The officers will collect the form by next week and our officials
will enlighten them on how to complete the form.

“ The form is technical and it is when we enlighten them that they will not misuse the form.

“The officers do not have any option than to comply because it is
their constitutional responsibility, “ Olusoji said.
According to him, anybody who collects the asset declaration form, statutorily, should return the form within 30 days of collection.

The NCS recently issued a directive directing all its officers to
declare their assets within 14 days.

In the week under review, the Tin-Can Island Command of NCS said it generated N266.1 billion in 2015, down from N284.2 billion recorded in 2014.

The Public Relations Officer of the command, Mr Chris Osunkwo, said that there was a shortfall of N18.1 billion compared with the revenue recorded in 2014.

Osunkwo said the shortfall was attributable to inconsistencies in
fiscal policies, like restriction of foreign exchange placed by the
CBN on some imported items and the forces of demand and supply.

Also in the week, the Shippers Association Lagos State said that
10,000 indigenous freight forwarders might lose their jobs as some foreign shipping lines had taken over freight forwarding business.

The president of the association, Mr Jonathan Nicol, said that the
issue of dominance of Nigerian freight forwarding business came up in 2015 and was resisted by freight forwarders.
Nicol said that the CRFFN was established to train Nigerians for the purpose of freight forwarding.

“We feel that freight forwarders are an integral part of our business and we provide jobs for them regularly.

“They are licensed by Nigeria Customs Service yearly and if foreign shipping lines will want to take their jobs, I think it should be resisted,” the shipper said.

Also in the week, the Director, Consumer Affairs Department, Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC), Ms Azuka Ogo, said that the council had been collaborating with many local and international organizations to eliminate corruption at the ports.

Ogo made the disclosure at a two-day workshop on “Corruption Risk Assessment and Implementation of Integrity Plan in the Ports Sector’’, held in Lagos.

According to her, the council has equally held series of roundtable in order to proffer lasting solution to the problems facing the ports users.

She said that there was need for a Nigerian port operator to have
visible Complaints Desk or Complaints mechanism.
Ogo said that it was agreed that operators in Nigerian ports should have a handbook or manual.

“The NSC as the economic regulator for Nigerian ports has been taking note of the outcome of a survey which shows that a large number of government officials request facilitation of payments in the ports.

“The request varies from ports and the survey also shows refusals to pay, delays and allegations of irregularities of documentation or operations between 2014 and 2015.

“In 2014 and 2015 there has neither been any significant improvement in vessel waiting time or ease of interacting with the authorities,’’ Ogo said.

Also speaking, Mrs Rasheedat Okoduwa, Director, Public Enlightenment, ICPC, said the workshop was part of anti-corruption intervention in Nigerian ports sector being executed by the commission.
Okoduwa said that the statutory powers of ICPC encompassed
enforcement, prevention and educating against corruption.

She said the ICPC had power to examine the system and procedures of government agencies and review those systems that were corruption-prone.

The Chairman of Maritime Anti-Corruption Network (MACN), Mrs Ceciliia Torbrand, said the body was established in 2011 to promote good corporate practices in the maritime industry for eliminating bribery, facilitating payments and stamping out corruption.

Torbrand said MACN was set up to implement and share best practices as well as create awareness of industry challenges faced by vessel owing companies and other port operators.

“One of MACN’s responsibilities is to tackle issues affecting port
terminal operators, shipping agents, freight forwarders, cargo owners and others,’’ she said.

Torbrand said that MACN had been implementing collective action
projects in Egypt, Nigeria, Argentina and Indonesia. (NAN)

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