17 February 2006

Nigeria: Destination Inspection: Clearing Agents Complain Against Multiple Documents

OVER 24 documents required for clearing of goods from Nigerian Ports under the new Destination Inspection Import Regime (DIIR) is causing the Nigerian Customs Clearing Agents sleepless nights as they complain that the documentation are too many.

The Federal Ministry of Finance in a letter dated December 19, 2005, signed by Mallam J. I. Zarewa, Director, Home Finance, on "Import Guidelines procedure and Documentation requirements under the Destination Inspection Scheme", addressed to the Nigeria Customs Service Comptroller- General listed the documents demanded for clearance of goods in the new import regime to include: "Confirmed letter of Credit (LC)", to be attached with the original copies of Approved form 'M'; Final invoice/CCVO; Manufacturer's Certificate with standards adopted stated therein; Board Bill of lading, Air way Bill/ Way Bill; Parking list and letter of Credit instrument (tested). It's expected that the "documents shall be duly attested.

Other documents required include "Bills for Collection Transactions" and to be attached to it are: Approved Form 'M'; Single Goods Declaration (SGD) Form; Attested Final Invoice/CCVO; Attested Manufacturer's Certificate; Bill of Lading, Air ways Bill/Way Bill, attested; Certificate of Insurance; Import Duty Payment Receipt with SGD copy duly released and authenticated by Customs' Bill history/Bill of Exchange, Tally Sheet/Gate pass, Packing list duly attested.

Also the Exchange Control document that must be produced after clearance of goods at Ports includes: Risk Assessment Report (SAR) with Form 'M', Single Goods Declaration (SGD) Form number duly completed and signed by either the Importer or his appointed Agents, Copy of the attested Invoice / CCVO, Copy of the packing list, Import Duty Payment Receipt with the SGD number clearly stated thereon, Copy of the Manufacturer's Certificate with standards adopted stated thereon, Copy of the Carrier's Certificate, and Laboratory tested Certificate for chemicals, food, beverages etc

Chief Frank Ogbuzulu, a Customs Clearing Agents of over forty years experience, and a member of the Board of Trustee for Association of Nigeria Licensed Customs Agents said that "with these multiple documents required, the Nigeria Clearing Agents have not understood the Destination Inspection Clearing Procedures".

Chief Ogbuzulu said " the Importers, our Agents and the Bankers are still confused and are yet to understand the Destination Inspection Import Regime because of the too many documents requirement".

The Managing Director and Chief Executive of Regal Frank International Limited said that "the public awareness of Destination Inspection Procedures is low. The Agents have not understood it. The Nigeria Customs should have spent time to educate the Importers and their Agents enough before the commencement of the import regime"

According to him " the destination inspection is not working yet. It has not started. Old goods imported under pre-shipment regime are still congesting the ports, more cargo imported under the same old import regime are arriving, making the ports to be congested daily"

Chief Ogbuzulu however believes that "the Destination Inspection is good for the nation's economy if it can operate under a corrupt-free atmosphere", and he suggested that a proper structure should be put in place, to allow backlog of goods imported under the old regime to be cleared without delay as to make chance for goods imported under the new regime to have space in the ports.

He said. that the operation of the Destination Inspection needs enough space in the ports..

"It cannot succeed under port congested environment. The Fast Track Clearing Procedures will be useful to it".

The ANLCA Trustee member observed from experience that the Destination Inspection operation shall begin effectively from June 2006, when backlog of cargoes in the ports must have be cleared.

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