Saturday , 25 May 2024

$2.7 billion : Boosting Revenue Generation, My Govt is targeting 24-hour port clearance, Says Tinubu

The Federal Government targets a 24-hour clearance of goods at the ports to enhance trade and ease of doing business.

To achieve this, activities of all the agencies operating at the ports have been consolidated into a single window.

Yesterday, the President inaugurated a committee on the implementation of the National Single Window Project (NSWP).

The project, an electronic platform, is designed to simplify imports and exports at the nation’s ports by eliminating all hiccups in goods clearing and exportation.

All agencies and stakeholders involved in import and export processes are integrated into the NSWP for seamless trade operations.

One of the primary goals of the project domiciled at the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) is to ensure that goods were cleared within 24 hours electronically.

It is also aimed at eliminating trade barriers, boosting revenue generation and improving Nigeria’s ranking in the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business Index.

The steering committee has co-chairmen: Tola Fakolade , head of the project secretariat and Zach Adedeji, FIRS chairman. It has representatives from Central Bank of Nigeria(CBN), Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Nigeria Ports Authority (NPA), Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) , Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency(NIMASA), Standard Organisation of Nigeria(SON), exporters, importers, shipping lines and clearing agents as members. Federal ministries of Finance, Marine and Blue Economy, Transportation, Trade and Investment; Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA) and Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council (PEBEC) also have representatives in the committee.

Tinubu told the members that his administration hopes that the implementation of the initiative would bring an annual economic benefit of around $2.7 billion to the country.

“This transformative project,” said the President is not only “a bold statement” to his administration’s commitment to the prosperity of the nation but one that will to propel “our economy to new heights.”

Noting that the country has immense potential , the President lamented, however, that “for far too long, our economic growth has been hindered by the complexities and inefficiencies in our trade processes.”

“Today, we say that there should be no more, ” he said, describing the NSWP as game changer that would revolutionise the way trade is conducted in the country.

He said: “By simplifying government trade compliance through a digital platform, we will unlock the doors to economic prosperity and all other opportunities .

“This initiative will link our ports, government agencies, and key stakeholders, creating a seamless and efficient system that will facilitate trade like never before. “Imagine a Nigeria where businesses can save time and resources, where small enterprises can reach global markets, and where the informal e-commerce sector is brought into the fold, increasing our tax base. This is the Nigeria we are building with the National Single Window Project.

“The benefits of this initiative are immense. The paperless trade alone is estimated to bring an annual economic benefit of around $2.7 billion .

“Countries like Singapore, Korea, Kenya, and Saudi Arabia have already seen significant improvements in trade efficiency after implementing single-window systems.

“It is time for Nigeria to join their ranks and reap the rewards of a streamlined and decentralised trade process.

“We cannot afford to lose an estimated 4 billion dollars annually to red tape, bureaucracy, delays, and corruption at our ports.

“The National Single Window Project will address these issues headlong, preventing revenue leakage and facilitating effective trade. By doing so, we will create a more transparent, secure, and business-friendly environment that will attract investment and spur economic growth.

“The implementation of the National Single Window Project will not be an overnight process, I know. It requires dedication, collaboration, and a phased approach. But I assure you, my fellow brothers and sisters, that we are fully committed to seeing this project through.

“We will work tirelessly to ensure its success by engaging all partner agencies and stakeholders to create a system that works for every one of us.

“Moreover, the National Single Window Project is not just about Nigeria; by linking our system with those of other African nations, we will expedite cargo movement and optimise inter-Africa trade.

“This initiative is a testament to our commitment to regional integration and our belief in the power of collaboration.”

Tinubu pointed out that the inauguration of the steering committee marked the beginning of “an era of unyielding commitment to prosperity, efficiency, and endless possibilities.”

“The national single window is not just a project; it is a symbol of our determination to build a better future for ourselves and generations to come,” he added.

The President called on Nigerians to embrace the initiative with open arms, adding: “Let us work together as one nation to make the National Single Window a resounding success.

“Let us show the world that Nigeria is ready to take its rightful place as one of the leaders in global trade. Together, we will build a Nigeria that is stronger, more prosperous, and more united than ever before. The national single window is our gateway to that future. And I am honoured to lead us on this transformative journey.”

To the committee members, he said: “Dismantle all block webs along your way. I will be ready to listen to conversations, your discoveries and any problem-solving areas that will make the single window a big success.

“You are building a legacy and a country that is yours, mine, and that of future generations will benefit from.

“You have this great opportunity. It’s a bold endeavour that will etch your names in gold.”

FIRS Chairman Adedeji commended President Tinubu for spearheading the initiative.

He added that the implementation of the project would address revenue leakage, enhance trade efficiency, and boost economic growth.

Adedeji said: “The heavy costs, delays, and inefficiencies at our ports has been a constant burden. It is estimated that a staggering $4m annually is lost due to these inefficiencies.”

NPA Managing Director Bello Koko explained that the initiative would drastically reduce the amount of paperwork involved in transactions for import and export as information would be shared through a unified platform among the relevant government agencies.

He said: “For clearance, the target is actually 24 hours. Of course, we know what is obtainable in neighbouring countries; it’s 48 to 72hours, but our target is 24 hours.

“As for the number of forms, importers/ exporters fill out 20, 30 or 40 printed forms but now, digitally, they fill out a form that has 2, 3, or 4 pages.”

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