…Says ‘Form M’ is obtainable in commercial banks
The Apapa Command of Nigeria Customs Service, NCS, has said that the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, and Ministry of Finance were selected to be part of the World Customs Organisation, WCO, national workshop on Time Release Study, TRS, for cargo clearance in the ports because of the crucial roles they play in cargo clearance. AC Yahaya Idris with Apapa Command, who was a participant in the training, said this in a chat with newsmen.
According to him, the ‘Form M’, which is a prerequisite for importation in the country is often obtained in commercial banks. Therefore, the Apex Bank as the Monetary Authority regulating activities of commercial banks automatically becomes part of cargo clearing process.
He said, “For instance, importers may face delay in getting ‘Form M’ and such issue has to be addressed appropriately by the Monetary Authority”.
He went on, “As revenue generating agency, Customs works hand-in-hand with Finance Ministry. For example, Customs cannot issue waiver to any importer but the Finance Ministry is authorised to grant importers waiver when necessary. So, the moment waiver is granted, the Finance Ministry would write to Customs for it to be implemented accordingly”.
He pointed out, “You could see that the WCO training was not just for Customs alone. There were representatives from the office of the National Security Adviser, because that is where End-User-Certificate, EUC, is issued for importation of specific items into the country”.
He went on, “Other organisations involved in the training were National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, NDLEA, Standards Organisation of Nigeria, SON, National Agency for Food, Drug, Administration and Control, NAFDAC and terminal operators among other agencies operating in the ports”.
His assertion, “These groups are important because cargo clearance is not only Customs issue. For instance, when a vessel berths and discharges container depends on when an importer does appropriate documentation and declaration. Also, duty must be paid and the container’s number has to be taken to APMT for confirmation before positioning it for examination”.
AC Yahaya explained, “Sometimes other agencies like SON and NAFDAC have to examine the container as well, depending on the items in it. These are processes outside Customs operations and the container has only 28 days dwell time, after which, it attracts payment of demurrage. Sometimes, there could be an infraction that has to be sorted out in the clearing process”.
His words, “Another thing is that a vessel could berth and would not discharge immediately because when it gets to the anchorage, it does not enter the berth fully. At times the vessel would still be under the control of Nigerian Ports Authority, NPA.
“So, the essence of the workshop is to find out where the loopholes are, in order to address them effectively. The target is to ensure speedy cargo clearance in line with the Executive Order of the Federal Government, on ease of doing business in the ports. This is important because you cannot remove cargo clearance from ease of doing business at the ports”.