16th March, 2011
Mr. Mohammed Yakub, Chief Administration Officer in Budget Office of Federal Ministry of Finance, says Nigeria loses N750 billion annually to illegal importation of goods through Cotonou, Republic of Benin.
Yakub disclosed this on Tuesday in Lagos at a stakeholdersâ€™ conference organised by the inter-Ministerial Working Group on Review of Customs and Excise Management Act (CEMA).
He spoke on â€œMethodology and General Principles for the Review of Customs and Excise Management Act, 1958,â€
Yakub said the revenue loss was an enormous challenge to the country.
He said 15 per cent of Nigeriaâ€™s imports passed through Cotonou, adding that the current business environment negated free trade and encouraged smuggling.
Yakub said Nigeria could generate additional N195 billion yearly if the customs legislation was business-like.
He explained that the review of CEMA was basically economical because Nigeria should be able to have a law that would be up-to-date and conform to its yearnings.
â€œWe need to bring the law that underpins customs operations to date in line with various conventions and protocols Nigeria is signatory to as a country,â€ Yakub said.
He said CEMA did not provide a proper legal basis for applying important international agreements relating to customs procedures.
Yakub said the procedures included Agreements on Customs Valuation, Agreement on Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) and Agreement on Import Licensing.
â€œThe decision to embark on the review of Customs Act was informed by a long-standing concern for issues of political correctness, effectiveness, efficiency, trade facilitation and compliance with global best practicesâ€ NAN quotes Yakub as saying.
He said that after 50 years after independence, Nigeria should not be implementing a â€œcolonial law that is (CEMA 1958)â€.
He described CEMA as completely out of date, adding that essential modern technologies and procedures such as the use of Information and Communication Technology (ICT), application of risk management and others should be adopted.
â€œCEMA is too old and out-of-date to address the realities of modern Nigeria in several fundamental areas of customs operations,â€ Yakub said.
He said that the World Bank recently ranked Nigeria 146th out of 183 economies surveyed in â€œTrading Across Bordersâ€.
â€œIt is a bad complement and there is urgent need to embark on the reform of the business environment,â€ Yakub said.
NAN learnt that attempts were made in 2004 and 2007 to review some aspects of CEMA.
The review is being carried out in the context of an inter-ministerial collaboration between all ministries and agencies of government relevant to customs operations. (NAN)