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Food inflation: Customs vows to fish out food hoarders

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The Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) says it is determined to smoke out food hoarders as part of its contribution to checking inflation, its Comptroller-General (CG); Adewale Adeniyi, has stated.

“The service will continue to work tirelessly to ensure that the business of food hoarders is unprofitable,” Adeniyi declared in Abuja on Wednesday at a media briefing on achievements in the past one year.

He said that the NCS recorded 1,744 cases of rice and grains seizures valued at N4.4billion, in the efforts to curb smuggling.

“These concerted efforts underscore the NCS’ commitment to protecting society and ensuring national security,’’ he said.

He said that in the past one year, one of the leading policy measures it implemented was the transition from the repealed Customs and Excise Act of 2004 to the newly signed Nigeria Customs Service Act of 2023.

He explained that the new act strengthened the modernisation of NCS operations and promoted innovation within the service.

The CG emphasised that the new act also formed the basis for several trade facilitation measures currently being pursued by NCS, including the recent transition from Fast Track 2.0 to the Authorised Economic Operators (AEO) concept.

He highlighted that the Advanced Ruling system, which also originated from the act, represented a significant advancement in aligning NCS operations with global best practices.

“This initiative is now at an advanced stage of implementation,’’ he said.

He added that Time Release Study was also inaugurated in February to identify and address bottlenecks in the clearance process aimed at easing trade facilitation.

The C-G further noted that it decongested ports and reopened previously inaccessible access roads.

“In response to the need for dedicated terminals to process export goods, the NCS command at the Port of Lilypond was designated to handle export transactions.

“Other targeted measures to jointly facilitate trade and enhance revenue collection by the service include implementation of the presidential approval to decongest the ports area and improve logistics around the port in line with the Nigeria Customs Service Act 2023.

“NCS also commenced 24-hour clearance at the Port of Tincan Island, Lagos, in line with the Presidential Directive to enforce 48- hour clearance of goods,’’ he said.

According to the customs boss, NCS also implemented measures to address national security concerns which include strengthening and reinforcing the Federal Operating Units to pursue, intercept, arrest and dismantle smuggling networks.

He said that new frontiers of interagency cooperation were established with the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC), finalising arrangements to integrate both systems to minimise the registration of smuggled vehicles.

“The service also commenced engagement with critical stakeholders like the Health Federation of Nigeria (HFN), with the support of the Federal Ministry of Finance, to facilitate the clearance of medical goods.

“This collaboration aims to ultimately reduce challenges and costs, making these services more affordable for Nigerians and specifically targeting the Presidential Priority Areas on healthcare,’’ he said.

He said that NCS was recently ranked by the Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council (PEBEC) among the top five Ministries, Departments, and Agencies (MDAs).

The assessment was conducted among 36 MDAs, with NCS achieving a perfect score of 100 per cent, marking 81.5 per cent increase from its previous average scores of 18.45 per cent between 2020 and 2022, and 18.53 per cent in 2023.

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