Some of the reforms injected into the new Nigeria Customs Act 2023 are to ensure enhancement of trade facilitation policies of the Service, thereby upgrading it into the status of a 21st century strategic revenue generating Institution.
Chairman of the 9th Assembly Committee on Customs and Excise of the House of Representatives, Hon. Leke Abejide disclosed at the Management Retreat/Sensitization workshop on the Nigeria Customs Act 2023 yesterday.
According to him, the reforms introduced by the new Act has a tremendous effect on every facet of our national economy and also the officers’ career progression with some enhanced level of professionalism and job motivation which has hitherto been deprived of the Service. This new legislation further marks a significant milestone in our efforts to streamline Customs procedures, enhance trade facilitation, and foster a conducive environment for economic growth and development.
He said, today every Customs Officer is assured that his labour is not going to be truncated at the peak of his career neither is he going to be denied the fruit of long, faithful and dedicated service to his/her mother l and. The provisions of Section 14 (1) of the new Act is very instructive on professionalism, by providing appointment of a career officer from the Service to be head of management of the Service.
According to him, the tortuous journey towards the repeal of the Customs and Excise Management Act, Cap. C45, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004, and the re-enactment of this new Act, the first of its kind in 63 years, was indeed very challenging, but which God made possible by the 9th National Assembly with the cooperation of the Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Justice, the Nigeria Customs Service and the general stakeholders at large.
Abejide said, this Act we are all celebrating today did not come that easy as the Bill was declined assent three (3) times. It got to a point it became practically the only project I was doing as I was having meetings in the Ministry of Justice while also talking with the Ministry of Finance and the Nigeria Customs Service. Were it not for perseverance and dedication on my part I would have given up same way previous administrations did, but all glory to God, it is a reality today.
When I assumed the position of Chairman, House Committee on Customs & Excise, I took it upon myself to surmount the obstacles that had made previous government failed to get the Customs and Excise Management Act, Cap. C45, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004 (CEMA) repealed and re-enacted which with God’s support, the Leadership of the 9th National Assembly, especially my boss, Rt. Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, Rt. Hon. Idris Wase, the Customs Committee Members and indeed former Management of the Nigeria Customs Service led by Col. Hameed Ali (Rtd.)
Our effort is providing policies statutorily implanted, which invigorates the objectives of keeping our boarders safe and making avenues of leaked revenue accountability lean, hence this institution shall in the shortest period reap the dividends of this legal framework that gear up the ease of doing business in Nigeria.
For the first time since the inception of this Service, the idea to always go cap in hand for finances in order to perform its lawful and statutory duties is now a thing of the past with the introduction of Section 18 of the Act; the Act provides for a sum not less than 4% of the Free-On-Board value of imports according to international best practice as part of the funds the service shall keep and maintain for its operation.
Further, Section 18(6)(a) has empowered the Nigeria Customs Service to superintend over its budget line items which its cost is 10% or less of the entire capital budget under review. This makes it faster for the Service to be able to implement their capital projects as quick as possible to enhance the performance of officers in service delivery. This implies that only projects of which value is above 10% of the total capital projects of the year under review will require Federal Executive Council approval.
It is to be noted that this sum is not cast on stone as it can be upgraded as the need arises by a proposal to that effect by the President to the National Assembly, and accordingly by appropriation put through Budget presentation on Customs Service matters.
It is our expectation that the Service would live to its responsibility of tapping new revenue areas, ensuring that duties and levies evading techniques by criminal-minded persons are restricted to the barest minimum level so that targeted revenue avenues would be harnessed.
It should be noted that the new legislation has introduced some new internal adjudicatory mechanism, equivalence of ADR, which simplified ways of resolving Customs disputes quickly and timeously the technicality of court’s litigation.
Moreso, the introduction of e-commerce system of trade facilitation avenues is an answer to long awaited response to global digital method which promotes quick response to revenue generation by the Service and ease of doing business.
Finally, I wish to congratulate this Management for having a dependable instrument that would enhance effective service delivery of your statutory responsibilities.
To the officers in general, I wish to state that this Act has made provisions for reward motivational scheme for exceptional and meritorious services rendered by any officer in relation to any Customs or Excise matter. This may come by special promotion, letter of commendation or cash reward. So your labour in executing this law optimally shall not be in vain.
I have confidence that this new legislation will speed up the growth of the Nigerian economy, enhance investor confidence, boost the morale of Customs Officers nationwide, improve stakeholder confidence and improve the transparency of Nigerian business climate in the global market place.
I want to congratulate the newly appointed Acting Comptroller-General of Customs, Bashir Adewale Adeniyi (MFR), for being the first partaker of this career reform exercise. I am persuaded that with your track records of selfless service to this institution, your statutory duty of overseeing the task of reforms injected into this Act would be seamlessly achieved.
I also want to express my sincere gratitude to the Management Staff of this Service for your cooperation during the task of getting this Act prepared in collaboration with my Committee of the House of Representatives and Senate. Your input during the public hearing, harmonization meetings of Ministries of Finance, Justice and other relevant agencies of government cannot be overemphasized. It has produced a fruitful result.