The Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) is advocating an urgent reformation of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) through executive orders or legislative actions to enable Customs discharge its trade facilitation functions effectively. LCCI President, Mrs. Toki Mabogunje, stated this in an interview with New Telegraph, saying it was time the Nigeria Customs reformation took place to bring sanity to the country’s gateway. According to her, the numerous impediments caused by the burdensome process of moving goods from the ports and extortions by government agencies are still persisting at the ports, with most of them traced to Nigeria Customs Service’s activities.
Mabogunje said: “On the Lagos ports crisis, the Chamber notes that despite the interventions and steps taken by the governments (federal and Lagos State), the burdensome process of moving goods from the ports and extortions by government agencies persist. “The bottlenecks on clearing of cargoes, especially the activities of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), constitute significant deadweight to the process. “We advocate an urgent reformation of NCS through executive order or legislative actions to enable Customs discharge its trade facilitation functions effectively.
“We call for proper management of the roads leading to the ports and the withdrawal of covernment officials from the roads to curbs the persistent traffic situation at the Lagos ports.” She noted that the chamber was also advocating for the Presidency to intervene by setting up an independent appeal mechanism to deal with issues of valuation and HS classification between the Nigeria Customs Service and the business community. According to her, this could be done within the framework of an executive order that the chamber is clamouring for.
Mabogunje said: “The LCCI calls on the president to intervene by setting up an independent appeal mechanism to deal with issues of valuation and HS classification between the Nigeria Customs Service and the business community. “This could be done within the framework of an executive order. “This is necessary to restore the confidence of investors in the international trade process.
“The reality is that the Nigeria Customs Service has a weak trade facilitation culture and an absence of customer service orientation. “This disposition is hurting investment, frustrating trade, and creating a negative investment sentiment. “A presidential intervention has become inevitable, especially with the onset of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement.
“There is need to ensure a balance between regulatory controls, revenue generation and trade facilitation functions of the Nigerian customs service.” While speaking on sanctity of contracts for construction companies, the LCCI president said: “Feedback from stakeholders in the construction industry revealed that sanctity of contracts remains a challenge faced by indigenous construction companies.
“Defaults on contract agreements have become a recurring incidence.” Many local contractors have suffered in the hands of government and private sector in terms of non-payment of services rendered. “We call on government to enact and implement a national framework on sanctity of contracts for construction projects. “Government and private clients are enjoined to pay for construction projects according to the terms and agreements of the project.” According to her, “a legal mechanism that is modelled after the U.S for speedy adjudication of cases and resolution of disputes on construction projects and related matters would boost investor confidence in the sector.”