OrderPaperToday – The House of Representatives on Tuesday, considered and passed a bill seeking to recruit additional 15,000 personnel into the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS).
The current bill if assented would increase the number of 15,349 Officers to 30,000 Officers needed for the Service to function optimally.
The lawmakers also noted that the bill as passed will help in eradicating problems of corruption, fraud, and malpractices together with inefficiencies and ineffectiveness in the operation of the Service, which have hindered the desire to contribute maximally to the economic development of the nation.
Chairman of the Committee on Customs and Excise, Leke Joseph Abejide (ADC, Kogi) presented the report for consideration.
“That the House do consider the Report of the Committee on Customs and Excise on a Bill for an Act to Repeal the Customs and Excise Management Act, Cap. C45, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004 and Enact the Nigeria Customs Service Bill; and for Related Matters (HB.1729) and approve the recommendations therein.” (Laid 6/4/2022).
The Chairman in his explanation said “the passage of this Bill is a step in the right direction, especially in view of the fact that the Bill is the first major reform in the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) Legal Framework in 63 years.
The old Act has become obsolete in today’s competitive global world and also, ineffective operations of the NCS.
A review of the Act seeks to reposition the NCS for improved efficiency and service delivery. Full automation of the NCS with modern reality will facilitate trade, improve revenue generation and more importantly expose illegal importation of arms and ammunition into the country. All of these would be made possible when this Bill becomes an Act.
Notable legislative initiatives in this Bill are as follows:
- Collation of all Customs and Excise legislations into a single compendium of Customs & Excise Act to facilitate easy reference and easy knowledge-driven Customs and Excise policies;
- This Bill when it becomes an Act will position Nigeria Customs Service to be financially stable and this will enable NCS to recruit the required number of Officers they need to man our porous border stations.
The Nigeria Customs Service currently have 15,349 Officers instead of 30,000 Officers needed for the Service to functionoptimally;
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- The current 7% cost of collection from the Duties payment is not enough to pay salaries of officers, not to talk of improving the infrastructures.
For this reason, this Bill provides for funding system based on 4% FOB, according to international best practice, to address funding problems and to reposition the service for improved efficiency and service delivery, as such 7% cost of collection shall cease to exist the moment this Bill becomes Law;
- Making the Act more readable to the understanding of the principal stakeholders thereby deviating from hitherto strict legal drafting of the aged;
- Providing stiffer punishments for offenders to act as deterrence for serious economic crimes of Customs and Excise oriented thereby encouraging more revenue in the area of payment of fines;
- Provision of Legislative input into the appointment of Comptroller-General of Customs similar to other organisations like Inspector-General of Police, Nigeria Immigration Service, and the Service Chiefs.
This is based on the economic importance and security implications the occupier connotes to the national economic and security development;
- Provision of Arbitration Panel for the purpose of dispute resolution to reduce multiplicity of cases at the court of law relating to customs issues.
A situation whereby dispute arose between Nigeria Customs Service and a Stakeholder and is same NCS that will set up panel mainly comprising of Customs Officers to judge then justice is far from being served;
- Rejigging the Board of Customs and Excise Management with competent and result oriented technocrats for smooth and fast operation of its functions, putting round pegs in round holes;
- Provisions in line with international best practices with realistic deviation from the 1958 Act that has become obsolete in injecting a combative approach to revenue and trade facilitation;
- Boosting the morale of Customs Officers with incentives introduced to carry them along in the scheme of things from the Comptroller General down to the last employee of the Service in line with revenue generation institutions and service delivery mechanisms; and
- Introduction of new Excise collectible revenue avenues in line with the recently enacted Finance Act 2021 for the smooth operation.
The collection of Excise Duties on all carbonated drinks now captured in this Bill for the Nigeria Customs Service to have adequate legal backing to function in this area;READ ALSO: SMUGGLING: Customs accuse govt agencies of aiding
“The aforesaid developments injected into this Bill are sufficient to implode economic development, facilitation of trade and greater revenue generation in tandem with the goal and target given to the Nigeria Customs Service in view of fiscal independence and autonomy our economy is yearning for;
The most innovative inclusion into this Bill is the objectives of eradicating problems of corruption, fraud, and malpractices together with inefficiencies and ineffectiveness in operation of the Service, which have hindered the desire to contribute maximally to the economic development of the nation;
Finally, this Bill is in tune with ICT development which is going to give the Service the ICT demand it requires for its operations in line with international best practice. This would ensure a model that can think a thousand times faster and more efficiently than humans do.”
The bill was considered and passed awaiting the third reading.