The National Assembly has been urged to withdraw, review and redraft the Nigeria Customs Service bill currently before it.
President, National Association of Managing Directors of Customs Licensed Agents, Lucky Amiwero, in a document presented to the House Committee On Customs And Excise, said in the draft bill, Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) was unduly allocated with uncontrollable powers over the President, The Ministers and other government agencies on policy making, regulation of the economy on trade and Fiscal policies and other matters, which negate the principle of global best practice on administration, control and management of Trade/Customs Act.
He said that due to the importance of the Customs and Excise Management Act to the economy as an instrument that assists the federal government to formulate proper Trade and fiscal policy direction, the draft bill must be withdrawn, reviewed and redrafted.
Amiwero, who is also a member of the Reconstituted Presidential Task Force For The Reform of Nigeria Customs Service (RPTFCR), alleged that all powers of the president and minister are to be exercised by the Comptroller-General of Customs in the bill.
The excessive and overriding power of the Customs Service in the bill, according to him, includes; declaratory authority, regulatory authority, directive and implementation.
He said these were not in line with WTO, WCO UNCTAD, procedures, rules and regulation, which requires and independent body higher than customs for control in relation to dispute as core to the preservation of international trade and trust of international committee on investments in contravention of Trade Facilitation Agreement (FTA), which Nigerian is a contracting party.
He noted that the bill is not for the personnel of the Nigeria Custom Service as has been designed, structured and titled, but is an instrument to regulate trade and fiscal policy of the economy by the federal government.
Globally, he said Customs Act is a trade instrument designed based on international conventions, for universal trade application that are structured in a way that the President proclaims, designates and initiates; Minister regulates; Board gives directives and Customs implements.
The Customs Act globally, is a legal instrument that is applied by the executive arm of government to regulate the economy through proper articulation of trade and fiscal policy direction.
“Customs service are personnel represented by management and staff of the organization who are called proper officers for the purpose of implementing trade and fiscal policies initiated and regulated by the president and ministers.
“The president and ministers globally is the custodian of the Act, while the major stakeholders are customs, manufactures, importers, exporter, warehouse operators, licensed customs agent. Among others,” he stated.
Amiwero added that the Minister of Finance is statutorily authorised as the custodian of the Act, to initiate the amendments or the repealing of the Act, as contained in sections 4-(1) &5-(1) of Customs and Excise Management Act Co 45 of 2004.
He said: “The Federal Minister of Finance as the Chairman of the Board and the Custodian of the Act, by the provision of Section 4-(1)(2)(3) and 5-(1) in addition to the provision under section 148 of the Constitution, should seek for the withdrawal of the Nigeria Customs Service draft bill from the National Assembly, in a bid to constitute a Committee of Experts and core stakeholders, to review the Nigeria Customs Service draft bill in line with international best practice.”