By Seun Ibiyemi
Nigeria Customs Service and the Customs administration of Republic of Benin have finalised technical aspects of connectivity expected to achieve ease of doing business, promote trade, prevent revenue losses and curb smuggling across common borders.
Both Customs administration are set to sensitise Stakeholders on Tuesday and on the business process and the inherent benefits in the project.
The new initiative, said to be a step further in the ECOWAS Alisa project is expected to be launched towards the end of this month.
Confirming the development to our reporter, spokesman for Nigeria Customs, Joseph Attah, described the move as one that will impact greatly and positively on the fortunes of trans border trade actors in both countries.
Attah, a Deputy Comptroller of Customs, said “Automation of manifest of imported goods into both countries, under the connectivity regime, will be captured for customs declaration in both countries.
“What we mean is that, whatever declaration you make in either country will be known by customs administration of the other Country. It will be impossible to now make a declaration at one end and later change or adjust earlier made declaration in the other country to avoid arrest or payment of appropriate taxes.
“This addresses the possible incidents of duty evasion through insincere declarations or attempt to hide and smuggle a prohibited item into the Country. Whatever you are declaring on the other side is electronically transmitted to this side and vise versa and will form the basses for you assessment.
“It becomes impossible to change declaration concerning the consignment. By this, we shall be preventing smuggling electronically.
“This does not affect the extant procedures peculiar to both countries on prohibition list, contraband and country by country rules on processing of certain items for importation. Laws of both countries applies to items so declared,” Attah said.
He added that in addition to single declarations being used by customs administration of broth counties in a transparent platform, the new system will be time saving and no doubt facilitate trade and reduce cost of doing business while curbing possible corrupt tendencies.
According to him, revenue collection, would be more accurate while security will be enhanced with the deployment of non intrusive equipment such as scanners and others that will detect items that could compromise security, fuel insurgency or other criminal acts in both Countries.
He also said the existing trade relationship between both countries would be strengthened by the new initiative as it will forge a more enduring partnership aimed at promoting legitimate trade and discouraging transborder illegalities.
Governments of both countries, according to Attah, would be able to access more accurate and reliable trade data or statistics for national planning and other economic resource materials.
He explained further that, “Levels of compliance to trade and fiscal policies by members of the trading community is expected to increase with the new system whose backbone is sustained by an internationally recognised ICT for trade solution provider, Webb Fontaine.
“Webb Fontaine has a record of helping to deploy ICT for improved risk management, preventing revenue losses and promoting trade in line with policies of governments it interfaces with. Its this age long experiences that forms the backbone of this Customs to Customs connectivity in Seme/Krake border.”