The Senate has passed the Nigerian Customs Service Management Repeal and Re-enactment Bill, 2017.
This followed the consideration and adoption of the report submitted by the chairman of the Senate committee on Custom and Excise, Hope Uzodimma.
Uzodinma said the re-enactment of the customs act became necessary given that the Act establishing Customs had not undergone a major overhaul since 1958.
Among many other new introductions in the new Customs Act is the provision for the appointment of a Comptroller-General from the service by the President subject to confirmation by the Senate.
Recall that the current Customs CG was before his appointment by President Buhari a retired Army Colonel.
Uzodimma said: “The primary purpose of amending this bill is to bring discipline and prudence into Nigeria Customs Service as a major revenue earning Department of Government.
“It is also to use the services of Customs to strengthen border community and facilitate trade.
“The Customs Act was legislated upon last in 1958. This is the first time that this bill is going through a comprehensive overhaul and it is as good as a brand new one.
“This bill has created a Customs Service Commission that is in charge of the day to day management of the service.”
According to the bill, “the Chairman of the (Customs Service) Commission will be appointed by the President, subject to Senate confirmation and members of the commission are going to be statutory organs of government, Federal Ministry of Finance.
“Others are Federal Ministry of Transport, the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, the Nigeria Customs Service, Standard Organisation of Nigeria.”
Uzodinma pointed out that the creation of the commission was not to jettison the position of the Ministry of Finance, but to make the work easier.
He explained that the tenure of the Chairman of the commission as provided for in the new Act would be four years with an option to renew for another four years.
“Currently Customs should get money from non-dutiable items and it should be able to oversee the activities of dutiable cargo and non-dutiable cargo. That is what we have done,” the lawmaker stated.
“Now customs will be funded through the existing seven per cent surcharge and additional one per cent charge from the revenue generated.”
Senate President Bukola Saraki, in his remarks said the bill, when signed into law would modernise the customs service in accordance with modern realities
“It will also ensure that Nigeria complies with international commitments of World Trade Organisation, WTO,” Saraki said.
“It is a very positive development in ensuring that we have a customs administration that will be more transparent with better clarity.”