The Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) observes that the implementation of Pre-Arrival Assessment Report (PAAR) regime of cargo clearance in Nigerian ports, which was inaugurated in 2013, has boosted revenue generation of the service.
The service note that since the inception of the scheme, its revenue generation rose from N833.4 billion in 2013 to N977.09 billion in 2014.
PAAR is electronic clearing platform which replaces the Risk Assessment Report (RAR) issued by the service providers consisting of Societe Generale de Surveillance, Global Scan systems Ltd. and Cotecna Destination Inspection Ltd.
In an event to mark a year anniversary of the scheme in Lagos recently, Alhaji Dikko Abdullahi, the Comptroller-General of Customs, said that the development of the scheme had enabled the service to improve in its revenue collection.
He, nonetheless, noted that genuine declaration by the importers and transparency by licensed customs agents and freight forwarders would aid the functions of the scheme.
According to him, training of agents is also important in assisting PAAR to work effectively by ensuring faster clearance of goods at the ports.
Abdullahi also noted that the scheme had assisted in reducing costs and time of cargo clearance at the ports.
“PAAR allows an importer to do all documentary business while waiting for the cargo to arrive;
it also helps to calculate duty, freight and other relevant charges from whatever country a consignment is coming from.
“All an importer or an agent needs to do is to access the portal; go to the classification tool and select what he or she wants to import and the system would interact with him or her up to the point of importation,’’ he said.
Corroborating the comptroller’s viewpoint, Mr. Charles Edike, the Customs Area Controller, Apapa Area 1 Command of the service, explained that PAAR had modernised the operations of the service.
He said that the scheme had also repositioned the service to be a reference point in trade facilitation, risk management and revenue collection.
Edike noted that the service had saved more than N36.9 billion which represented the amount government would have paid the three former destination inspection service providers under the Comprehensive Import Supervision Scheme.
He, however, observed that a major challenge confronting the cargo inspection regime was lack of compliance with trade rules and regulations by importers and customs agents.
He said that as at December 2014, more than 15,000 PAAR had so far been rejected for not complying with the rules.
“The non-compliance of importers had generated controversies among customs officers and the importers resulting in the delay in the clearance of cargo at the ports,’’ he said.
Mr. Jonathan Nicol, the President of the Shippers’ Association Lagos State (Importers and Exporters), expressed concern about the delay caused by the controversies on non-compliance with cargo clearing regulations.
He urged the service to minimise queries on PAAR and suggested that such queries should not be up to 10 per cent of the total PAAR issued by customs.
“We felt we needed to give customs the backing we did. I would say by and large, the PAAR regime is working well but with just one exception, that they should stop querying their own documents.
“Before we issue PAAR, you would have got all the relevant documents relating to that shipment and whoever is checking the last document; that is, the invoices, should check it properly to conform with the price,’’ he said.
But Mr Olayiwola Shittu, the President of Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents, urged stakeholders to support PAAR, insisting that “the scheme has fared better, even though it had some challenges at the initial stage.’’
He, nonetheless, said that PAAR had become a reality in freight forwarding practice and that the agents still needed to be educated about the scheme.
According to him, the association is always in support of PAAR from the onset because the association and the service are partners in progress.
In his opinion, Chief Eugene Nweke, the President, National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders, observed that the PAAR regime was in line with international best practices on matters concerning trade.
“The provision of at least two weeks to conclude all documentation processes before vessel arrival is unbeatable if diligent efforts and honesty is applied in all facets of international transactions and clearance procedures within the port,’’ he said.
Sharing similar sentiments, a licensed Customs’ agent, Mr. Dayo Azeez, said that cargoes could leave Nigerian ports within 48 hours if importers avoid false declaration and other discrepancies.
He observed that once the PAAR had no discrepancy, cargo would be released immediately.
“When your document gets to customs and there is no discrepancy or false declaration, your PAAR is issued.
“Transparency and honest declaration by importers and their agents are important for the scheme to be totally successful,’’ he said.
All in all, observers note that importers and agents need to maintain transparency to enjoy the full benefits of PAAR regime.

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