Clearing agents fault new bill proposing customs minister oversight

Clearing agents fault new bill proposing customs minister oversight

By Sulaimon Salau

31 July 2022   |  
3:35 am

The Nigeria Customs Service Bill 2022, which is currently before the National Assembly, is proposing a new Minister of Customs, as against the Ministry of Finance…

Lucky Amiwero

The Nigeria Customs Service Bill 2022, which is currently before the National Assembly, is proposing a new Minister of Customs, as against the Ministry of Finance, which currently oversees the functions of the agency.

   


The Guardian gathered that the same bill, which was rejected by the Federal Government in 2013, has now been represented in both the Senate and the House of Representative with the same content.


 


The bill, according to sources, has not been subjected to stakeholders/public hearing at the senate and this has stirred concerns among stakeholders.


   


The National Council of Managing Director of Licensed Customs Agents (NCMDLCA), in a petition written by its President, Lucky Amiwero, said the draft bill must be withdrawn, reviewed and redrafted to accommodate the shortfalls of the international conventions, treaties and protocol missing in the bill.


   


The petition addressed to President Muhammadu Buhari, said the draft bill of 2022, also reduces the power of Nigeria Customs Service by almost 40 percent, which will affect the service performance in future and global trade.


 


Besides, he stated that the bill conflicts with other government agencies legislation and function in the process of import, export, manufacturing.


 


He stated: “The report from the Senate on the Nigeria Customs Service bill of 2022 do not reflect the objective of trade facilitation process, which is predicated on Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA), World Customs Organization Kyoto convention (WCO) harmonization and simplification of Customs procedures, WCO Safe Framework of standard to secure and facilitate global trade, National Facilitation Committee of (IMO) FAL convention for harmonisation, minimisation and facilitation of maritime traffic.

“Furthermore, the Nigeria Customs Service is not under the Ministry of Finance in the draft bill as indicated in paragraph 3.0 (1-5) clause 8-(3)(a). It indicates that there is a new Minster of Customs to be appointed by the president.


 


“A minister who shall be appointed by the president shall be a retired officer not below the rank of Deputy Comptroller-General,” clause 8-( 3) of the minister’s appointment stated.

   


This, according to him showed that the Board has no power; it is only to superintend staff matters. The petition added that, “The repeal and re-enactment bill 2022 conferred all function and powers to Nigeria Customs Service which includes to manage and enforce the provision of the act, and the Customs and Excise law, direct, administer, and enforce provision of the Act, the Customs and Excise Laws; collect and account for revenue from Customs duties, Excise duties, other taxes, charges, fee and special assessments as may be assigned; administer trade and fiscal policies of the government as it relate to this Act; promote trade facilitation in line with international conventions and agreements as it relate to Customs Administration, and carry out all border enforcement and regulatory activities required by law”.


   


Besides, he said that the title of Nigeria Customs Service in the bill is designed and personalised for the management of Customs against global best practices.


 


“The Nigeria Customs Service bill is designed and personalised for the management of the Nigeria customs service based on the removal of some power of the President and total removal of the ministers and the overriding powers over other Federal Government agencies. Globally, the title of the Act is structured by the content based on the application of international convention, treaties, and protocol on trade procedures.


   


“The bill is not for the personnel of the Nigeria Custom Service as been designed, structured and titled, but as an instrument to regulate trade and fiscal policy of the economy by the Federal Government,” he stated.


   


Also, he said: “In the draft bill, Nigeria Customs Service was unduly allocated with uncontrollable powers over the President/Commander-in-chief of the Armed Forces, the Ministers and other government agencies on policy making, regulation of the economy on trade and fiscal policies and other matters, which negate the principle of global best practice on administration, control and management of Trade/Customs Act.”


   


Amiwero said: “The Federal Minister of Finance as the Chairman of the Board and the Custodian of the Act, by the provision of Section 4-(1)(2)(3) and 5-(1) in addition to the provision under section 148 of the Constitution, should seek the withdrawal of the Nigeria Customs Service draft bill from the National Assembly, which was not subjected to stakeholders/public hearing at the senate. There is a need to subject the draft bill to Committee of trade procedure experts (TPE), and core stakeholders, to review the Nigeria Customs Service draft bill in line with international best practice, especially with the expected Trade Facilitation Agreement (FTA) and African Continental Free Trade Area (AFCFTA) coming on board, which is not included in the draft bill 2022.”

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