Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), says the adverse operating environment of the nation's ports will continue to hinder Federal Government's effort, to reduce its dependence on oil revenues for economic development.
The LCCI President, Babatunde Ruwase, made the statement during the LCCI Freight Forwarders Group Annual Seminar on Thursday in Lagos at the LCCI's corporate office, Victoria Island.Tagged: "Trade Facilitation on Nigeria Integrated Customs Information System (NICIS II)-Advantages and Development", Ruwase said that significant efforts were made in reforming the maritime sector through concessioning of the ports in the early 2000s, but results of the reforms were below expectations.
He said that the regulatory landscape was complex with numerous public agencies regulating private terminal operators and myriad of businesses in freight forwarding, logistics and trade.
"Consequently, operators and users of Nigerian ports are faced with bureaucratic red tape, constant delays, high cost and illegal charges," he said.He said that, the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) in its bid to surmount the problem, introduced the Nigerian Integrated Customs Information System (NICIS II) to facilitate ease of doing business.
"While we commend the efforts of the Customs Service in the introduction of NICIS II, we would like to underscore the need for Customs to do more in the area of trade facilitation."The business community still encounters too many problems in cargo clearing process. This is not consistent with the ease of doing business agenda of the government," he said.
In his contribution, Comptroller-General, Nigeria Customs Service(NSC), Col. Hameed Alli, said trade facilitation was at the core of NCS work, from developing tools to help companies in trade and, ensuring government develops right policy to drive trade.He said that NICIS II was a clearance application developed by NCS to modernise the clearance of goods at the ports and border stations.
Alli said that introduction of NICIS II had reduced processing time of documents, web-based accessibility by smartphones, data control to guide correct declaration, help in data capture and attachment of scanned documents for online submission. Alli was represented by Comptroller Adetoye Tade, Controller Admin, Zonal Headquarter, Yaba.
Also, Donald Uche, Chairman,LCCI Freight Forwarders Group, said that the maritime industry has the capacity to improve its contribution to economic growth, if the impediments to its daily activities were resolved.Assistant Director, Compliance and Enforcement, Nigerian Shippers Council, Chukwuemeka Akujiobi, said most ports across the country were not up to standard in terms of infrastructures that would drive customer satisfaction.
He said that the council would continue to monitor activities of all operators towards ensuring adherence to standards that would catalyse economic growth.