Revenue: Apapa Command Hit the Ground Running

By Stehen Ubaana

Until January 25, 2018,  no person had  expected the Nigeria Customs Service, NCS,  Apapa Command to pay  N30 billion into the Federation Account at the end month. This is because of the low volume of cargoes being handled at the port during the month. The low volume of cargo was not unexpected because of the mixed reaction of traders to the government  2018 fiscal policy.

More worrisome was the delay in honoring importers letters of Credit by their oversea customers which led to late arrival vessels with cargoes to the port.  the situation was so bad that most of the cargoes that were supposed to arrive the port in the month of January were delayed to the month of February.

The revenue drive of the Command was said to have been hit hard by the government fiscal policy of 2017 which remained unchanged. This is because the average duty rate which used to be 12.54 was said to have been slashed to 11.1 percent.

The Magazine was informed that some goods had their duties considerably lowered  while there was total removal  of duty rates  for agricultural  projects, ostensibly to encourage local rice production. This is evident going by the total removal of  duty rates on prefabricated  Agricultural Green House  from 20 percent to 0percent, Agricultural  machinery from  5 percent to 0percent ,  Automobile  Industry Project, SKD  vehicles  from 35-5 percent, . Also,  Concession  of  one SKD  to a fully built unit, cleared  without payment of 35 percent levy.

The non issuance of Letters of Credit, LC, to  importers of rice  by the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN and the Ministry of Finance since June last year  was said to have had a more telling effect on the  monthly revenue generation of the Command.  Rice, a high revenue yielding  item was approved to come  into the country through Apapa port  but appears to have been tactically banned by the government.  The government may have taken the policy decision to encourage local rice production and  create employment  in the nation’s agricultural sector.

In spite of the low cargo volume  handled at the port  in the month of January, 2018 and  the lowering and total removal  of duty rate for Agricultural as well as the partial ban on the importation of rice into the country through the port,  Jibrin Musa , Comptroller of Apapa Command and his principal officers involved in revenue generation have  not allowed it to way them down.

With the backing of the Comptroller, Gaya Yahaya,  the Command Deputy Comptroller in-charge of revenue was said to have blocked all areas of revenue leakages  with the full deployment of the Service Information Communication Technology, ICT. The fallout was that the revenue  collection of the Command which initially looked unimpressive  at the beginning of the month of January  this year picked up tremendously at the tail end of the month.

An elated  Musa disclosed that the Command  generated about N31.02 billion, which was paid into the Federation Account in the end of the month of January. It would be recalled that  at the same period last year , the Command generated only about N26 billion.  But the Command has a monthly target of N35.5 billion while the year’s revenue target was pegged by the Hameed Ali, a retired Colonel and Comptroller  General, NCS,  led Management  at n426 billion. The Customs boss is optimistic that the Command would overshoot the monthly target in subsequent months that would propel it ” within the confines of the law  to meet and even surpass  the 2018 annual  revenue target”.

His optimism was based on the over N31 billion that was generated by the Command in the month of January despite the lull in cargo imports. ” I am glad to inform you that  the Command had taken off  on a good note  and hit the ground running” by collecting  over N31 billion in the month of January.

he disclosed that the Command had put in place a lot of measures to sustain the tempo of the high revenue profile of the Command. One of such measures, the Comptroller said  was robbing of minds with the industry stakeholders who operate within the lager value chain . Another measure  put in place by the Command  that was revealed by the Customs boss  was the need for stakeholders  to remind themselves  of the need to be compliant to all extant laws  relating to imports and clearing of goods at the port.

Appealing to importers with their agents to embrace  the new Customs  Integrated Computer  facility, NCIS, version 92, described as being  ” faster,  more efficient , all-encompassing, which  provided opportunity for seamless cargo clearance at the port”.

given the seriousness of the Comptroller to ensure that agents get acquainted with the new Customs ICT,  Musa, the Apapa Customs boss was said to have assured stake holders that the ” NCIS II training which had been flagged off at Kirikiri Lighter Terminal, phase 1,KLT, Tin-can Island Command and other Commands across the country will soon take off at the Command. This is because the software  for the new Customs ICT  is about to be deployed  to the Command by the Headquarters.

The delay in deploying the software to the Command is unexpected.  ” the idea is that  by the time  the software  become fully operational in the Command, we would  have blocked all areas of revenue leakages and increase Compliance  level  that would improve the monthly revenue collection of the Command”, Musa said. Customs operatives are also being carried along  to fit into the new  ICT. The Command , under Musa, was said to have embarked on aggressive updating of  Staff on Customs literature on tariff and the Customs  and Excise Management Act, CEMA, to avoid making wrong Classifications and misapplication of the HOS Harmonized duty Code.

It would be recalled that NCIS II had ran into a hitch at KLT Phase 1 because of lack of proper training for both the officers and stake holders.    It  is this same mistake that Musa, the Apapa Comptroller  has avoided.

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