Nigerian Govt slashes import, export documentation requirements

Kemi Adeosun

Kemi Adeosun

Kemi Adeosun

The Minister of Finance, Mrs Kemi Adeosun says the Federal Government has reduced documentation requirements for import and export, to facilitate trade.

Adeosun made this known on Thursday in Lagos at a Sensitisation Workshop with the theme: “Understanding Nigeria’s Revised Import and Export Guidelines, Procedures and Documentation Requirements for Ease of Doing Business’’.

According to the minister, the measures include the reduction of documentation requirements from 10 to seven, for exports and from 14 to eight, for imports.

Adeosun, who was represented by the Director, Home Finance, Federal Ministry of Finance, Mrs Olubunmi Siyanbola, said that additional responsibilities had been given to the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), the Nigerian Ports
Authority (NPA) and the shipping lines/other carriers.

Government’s attention is principally focused on measures to ensure reduction in time spent on processing of export and also to ensure 24-hour clearance of cargo imported into the country.

The minister announced that the NCS shall coordinate the mandatory joint examination and Sign-Off Form, within the official working hours, including Saturdays.

“NCS shall make available the shipping manifests to other examination agencies as soon as they are received, to enable enough time for Risk Assessment.

“Nigeria Integrated Customs Information Systems (NICIS) should be strengthened to accommodate more agencies.

“Shipping lines shall transmit to the NCS and the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), the cargo manifest, before leaving the last Ports of Call to Nigeria.

“Shipping lines shall ensure that Nigeria-bound containerised cargo are palletised,’’ Adeosun said.

The minister said that a new section had been introduced, which stated that the NPA shall receive cargo manifests from shipping lines before the ship leaves the last Port of Call and circulate to other regulatory agencies for Risk Assessment and Profiling.

Adeosun said that NPA shall be responsible for traffic management of vessels and shall ensure pilotage of vessels.

The minister commended the efforts of President Muhammadu Buhari toward ensuring the Ease of Doing business, which had started yielding dividends in some areas.

According to her, in the recent World Bank report, Nigeria had moved up 24 points from 169th position on the 2017 ranking and also 170th position on the 2016 ranking to 145th position in the World Bank’s 2018 report.

“That is, Nigeria is now in 145th position out of 190 countries in the Ease of Doing Business Index for 2018,’’ she said.

Adeosun said that government was working relentlessly to quickly put in order the scanning system, so as to eliminate manual examination of goods and other associated delays.

She said that the Export and Import Guidelines would be fully implemented with effect from January 1, 2018.

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“The Guidelines may not be perfect to address all concerns but government will monitor its implementation closely, to address emerging and unforeseen situations,’’ the minister said.

In a welcome address, the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Finance, Dr Mamoud Isa-Dutse, urged business entities involved in both import and export trading to abide by the provisions of the guidelines.

The permanent secretary was represented by the Director of Information, Federal Ministry of Finance, Mr Salisu Nainna.

“Let our efforts in striving to create a lucrative business environment in Nigeria be mutually-reinforcing, to enable us as a country make significant progress.

“We are duty-bound to foster formal trade not only to block loopholes for leakages of government revenue but also to promote the growth of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises, so as to enhance the competitiveness of the economy for our business to continue to prosper.

“The present government is taking steps toward ensuring 24-hour clearance of cargo using cutting-edge technology.

“In this direction, efforts are ongoing to revive and upgrade the scanning system as a short-term measure, pending the acquisition of modern High Definition Scanners,’’ Isa-Dutse said.

He said that the Ease of Doing Business had improved Nigeria’s performance in terms of trading across borders, with the introduction of Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council (PEBEC).

The permanent secretary said that the guidelines had taken into account the directives of the Vice President and there was that inherent potency to facilitate trade without compromising the interest of the national economy.

Isa-Dutse said that the objective of the workshop could be achieved if stakeholders were properly informed about procedures, rules and regulations, as well as modalities for their implementation and enforcement.

Dr Jumoke Oduwole, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Industry, Trade & Investment, urged the private sector to cooperate with the Federal Government in the reform initiatives.

“ We ask that stakeholders should refrain from circumventing policies, as we strive to implement initiatives and reforms needed to scale up the efficiency and transparency of the public sector, ’’ Oduwole said.

“We invite you all to give us your candid feedback on how our reforms are working in practice, as we collectively strive to make Nigeria an easier place in which to do business,’’ she said.

Oduwole was represented by Mr Jude Oboh, Reform Leader at the Enabling Business Environment secretariat.

Mr Tony Ayalogu, a Deputy Controller of Customs, stressed the importance of palletisation of cargo, saying that it protected goods from any form of damage.

Ayalogu said that a standard palletised cargo could carry a maximum cargo of 100 kg.

He urged Nigerians to ensure compliance with policy on palletisation of containerised cargo coming into the country, to make the Customs work seamlessly and to reduce the time of doing business.