Determined to ease the challenges of doing business, the Federal Government has introduced new procedures that would ease cargo clearance at the ports.
The Presidential and Enabling Business Environment Council (PEBEC) has also declared that henceforth, all containers coming into the country are to be privatised.
The new procedure introduced by PEBECis designed to make Nigerian ports have a competitive edge for trade compared with neighbouring ports and across the world. It is also to create more convenience for businesses to process their documentations effortlessly.
PEBEC is a committee constituted by President Muhammadu Buhari in July 2016, and chaired by the Vice President, Prof Yemi Osinbajo to ensure that the entry and exit of goods in and out of the country is hitch-free.
The Secretary, PEBEC, Dr Jumoke Oduwole, who disclosed this during a sensitisation workshop on ease of doing business in Lagos, said to reduce the cumbersome process experienced during cargo clearance, documentation process for export is now reduced from 10 to seven, while for all imports; documentation is cut down from 14 to eight.
Oduwole noted that the decision became pertinent following the committee’s research that it is impossible to import and export goods seamlessly without functioning ports.
For it to work out, Oduwole, who is also the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Industry, Trade and Investment, said the process had to be divided into short, medium and long terms. On the short term basis, which the committee is currently in, a 60-national action plan was initiated which elapsed on April 21st.
Achieving this, she said: “We started working with Customs, Nigerian Ports Authority, Nigerian Shippers’ Council, terminal operators and other critical stakeholders to identify the key problems, as we have identified trainings across borders as one of the most critical areas in need of reforms in the Nigerian economy”.
The Comptroller-General of the NCS, Hameed Ali, who was represented by the ACG, Trade and Tariff, Robert Alu, said the forum became necessary following Nigeria’s ranking by World Bank on its recent report on the ease of doing business in the port, a case he said was not encouraging.
Alu noted that to create an enabling environment for effective trade facilitation, and curb corruption at the ports, full automation must be put in place.