REPORT l FG slashes import documentation from 14 to 8

Following World Bank’s low ranking in the ease of doing business in Nigeria,  Federal Government yesterday reduced the export documentation from 10 to 7 while import documentation was slashed from 14 to 8.

The Senior Special Adviser (SSA) to the President on Trade and Investment,  Dr Jumoke Oduwole who announced this in Lagos at a two-day sensitization workshop on ease of doing business reforms, said that the directive takes immediate effect.

The SSA regretted that Nigeria has been looked at as a difficult place to do business and some steps have to be taken to relax some measures in the process of doing business.

So, it against this backdrop that the Federal Government decided to meet the stakeholders in the maritime sector of the economy to rob minds and seek  ways to remove certain bottlenecks in the process of doing business.

“We have identified training across borders as the  most critical areas in need of reforms in the Nigerian economy. It does a number of things. In our diversification process, we all know that this administration has a strong diversification push for exports. In our diversification push, it is impossible to import and export without  functioning ports. We started work in October 2016 on entry and exit of goods. In January we took it up basing on World Bank’s training across borders indicator. We started working with Customs, Nigerian Ports Authority, Shippers Council, terminal operators and a whole range of stakeholders to identify the key problems. We scoped them and divided them into short term and medium term and long term. So, we started with the short term. We have a 60-day action plan which is ending on April 21.

This is one of the key areas we have been working on. We have released some directives through the Minister of Finance. The Minister of Finance has issued some directives, the Comptroller General of Customs (CGC) has issued some directives on  palletisation of goods coming into Nigeria. Because we want to save cost and time for SMEs in Nigeria,  for anybody exporting from Nigeria  or importing into Nigeria, the documentation for export has been reduced from 10 to 7 and for imports from 14 to 8 and that is with immediate effect” he said.    

In his presentation, Deputy Controller of Customs, Antony Ayalogu identified the challenges in the importation process, saying that goods are not stratified before they arrive. This, he said, leads to inefficient movement of containers to yard.

According to him, the scanners are not functional and physical examination of cargoes are slow and tedious thus  leading to inefficiency in the ports.

Other challenges include non-palletisation of goods and poorly-parked containers, noting that the new procedure would accelerate pre-export documentation procedure, increase effectiveness and optimize pre-arrival processing.

Recall that the World Bank ranked Nigeria 182 out of 190 countries  in the world in the ease of doing business.

Some of the stakeholders present at the sensitization workshop include, Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA), National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF), Shippers Council, Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), Standard Organisation of Nigeria (SON) etc.

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