The Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, has expressed support for an upward review in remuneration of personnel of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) to enhance their performance.
Osinbajo said this at the graduation of NCS officers from the Senior Division Course O1, on Thursday at Nigeria Customs Command and Staff College, Gwagwalada, FCT Abuja.
According to him, the role of NCS is dynamic, as it is an important public resource for the control of the movement of persons and goods across our borders and revenue collection.
“It has performed these roles exceptionally in the past few years.
“It recorded the highest revenue collection ever in the nation’s history of over one trillion naira in 2017.
“This is despite the recession in the preceding year and low volume of imports and restrictions placed on 41 items from accessing Forex.
“In May, the service collected N100 billion in revenues, the highest figure in one month.
“Besides, we are all witnesses to the very many seizures of contraband goods, and especially arms in the past two years.’’
Osinbajo said; “to that, I add better pay. I agree that an enhanced remuneration structure is deserved.’’
According to him, it is also obvious that the service recognises the pivotal role of technology.
The vice president said like the deployment of the E-auction and other electronic platforms, the NCS would play a greater role as an economic investment facilitator, according to the News Agency of Nigeria, NAN.
“In the past 18 months, the Comptroller-General of customs has sat with us at the Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council, PEBEC, and the EMT not as a revenue generating agency but as a critical player in creating an enabling environment for business.
Osinbajo noted that with the active collaboration of the Comptroller-General, “we have reduced processes and documentation required for import and export’’.
“We are also on the threshold of launching the National Trade Platform,’’ Osinbajo said.
According to the vice president, the platform is the integration of all ports, Customs processes and documentation through a single window.
Osinbajo said “this will remarkably cut down processing time for all inward and outward trade, increase revenues, and introduce visibility and of course transparency to all transactions.’’
He said this was in line with role of Customs as an economic facilitator.
“We are taking a more robust approach to the anti-smuggling drive.
“Smuggling has been clearly identified as a major economic problem, especially on rice.
“The new approach combines technology enabled surveillance of our borders with vigorous manual surveillance and active diplomacy.
“We are also working with Customs, Immigration and other forces to take a second look at our approach on the movement of livestock and herders from our neighbors under the ECOWAS free movement of goods and persons,’’ he added.
According to him, the protocol allows livestock movement but the checks and certification required are hardly ever done.
“It is clear that the challenges we have today are significant and our good fortune is that we have the right leadership and a well-trained and competent service.
The Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun, commended achievement of NCS, especially in revenue collection.
Adeosun was represented by the Director on Home Finance in the, Mrs Olubumi Siyanbola.
Earlier, the Comptroller-General of Customs, retired Col Hameed Ali, said the Service in May collected the highest revenue of N100.1 billion in one month.
“We hope this will continue.’’
According to him, personnel of the NCS are the least paid.
“We plead that we should be considered on salary increase.
“The salary increase will help us in fighting corruption in the system,’’Ali said.
He said the Command and Staff College Course 01, started in January.
Ali said 40 senior officers graduated from the school after the six months training programme.