The Minister of Finance and Chairman of the Nigerian Cus toms Service Board, Dr. Mansur Muhtar, has urged the organisation to intensify e f forts on revenue collection and trade facilitation.
Addressing the senior management and all Area Comptrollers of the department on Thursday, Dr. Muhtar said the order followed the dwindling revenue from the serv i ce in the first quarter of 2009.
“The service’s total revenue for the period January to March was N89.695 billion ,” the minister said, adding that “this is far below the government set target o f N166.67 billion for the period.”
The Minister stressed that a decline of nearly 50% was not acceptable to governm ent and ordered the the immediate implementation of corrective measures to enhan c e revenue within the next few months without which there would be a drastic overhaul of the system.
He said henceforth, Area Controllers would be held accountable for assigned targ ets.
The Meeting which was held at the Customs Headquarters had in attendance the Per manent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Finance, Mr. Steve Oronsaye, Chairman of t h e Presidential Task Force on Customs Reforms – Dr Bello Haliru Mohammed, and mem b er of the Task Force – Mr. Dehinde Banjo.
It was aimed at intensifying efforts towards reinvigorating all aspects of Custo ms operations to meet up with challenges posed by the global economic crisis.
The Minister alluded to the just concluded Public Hearing by the House Committee on Customs and Excise, the outcome of which would feed into the reform process.
He acknowledged emphasis at the hearing relating to the need for Government to a ddress issues bordering on Staff compensation, funding and welfare.
While stating that Government was taking these requirements on board, he asserte d that this was a social contract.
In his words, “there are high expectations from the Nigerian public for better s ervices to which the NCS must respond; there is a clear need for NCS to improve i ts image; a lot of work is needed and Government has demonstrated the political w ill to make amends, especially by appointing the Presidential Task Force on Cust o ms Reform, but the Management of Customs must take the lead in making these chan g es happen”.
To address some immediate issues of concern, the Minister also directed the foll owing:
“The immediate dismantling of all in-country roadblocks by the NCS under the umb rella of the CG Task Force, as such has become a nuisance to the Nigerian public
who are subjected to avoidable hardship.
NCS roadblocks should be restricted to no more than 40kms from all border posts in line with the international conventions.
Federal Operation Units were also asked to conduct their duties according to lai d down procedures.
“The immediate dissolution of the Joint Committee on Disposal of Overtime/Abando ned Goods/Cargos, and a review of the arrangement to ensure greater transparency , reduce revenue leakages through collusion and prevent pilferage. A new committe e will be constituted and given a revised mandate.
“The NCS should fully and immediately comply with a recent government circular r egarding the treatment of period of study leave in relation to the circular of r e tirement period. In this regard, all officers affected by that circular who are d ue to retire should proceed on retirement, while promptly receiving their full e n titlements.