The absence of a National Single Window (NSW) platform at Nigeria’s seaports is costing the federal government a whopping N1.08trillion in customs revenue annually, according to LEADERSHIP.
The single window system is a trade facilitation idea and its implementation enables international traders to submit regulatory documents at a single location and or single entity.
According to the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) of the federal government, the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) collections would have increased by 90 percent if the National Single Window had been deployed in Nigerian ports. It was learnt that with the NCS generating N1.2trillion in 2018, the single window would have increased its earnings by additional 90 percent if were in place.
Information gathered that while Nigeria’s neighbours – Ghana, Togo, and Benin Republic – have a functional National Trade Platforms for trade facilitation, Nigeria, a supposed hub for maritime activities, was yet to have any. Maritime stakeholders argued that the platform if deployed would have reduced cargo delivery time from Nigeria seaports to less than 10 days and further facilitate trade as all agencies operating at the ports would have a one-stop-shop for cargo clearance and evacuation from the ports.
The minister of Finance, Hajia Zainab Ahmed, said that the lack of the platform at the seaports was one of the reasons Nigeria dropped one point on the World Bank ranking on Ease of Doing Business. She said that lack of understanding among agencies of government was delaying the implementation of the National Single Window at the seaports. The minister said: “Lack of a National Single Window is one of the reasons why in the last assessment of the World Bank Ease of Doing Business, we took a one step slip. “Recall that in the previous exercise, we moved 24 places but the last one, we slipped one step down and the major reason is the single window.
PEBEC which is the Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council led by the Vice President Yemi Osinbajo and 10 ministers as members and the Ministry of Finance and NCS are charged with making sure that this Single Window finally comes into being. “Single window brings about 10 different agencies of government and all of these have different views about how their aspect of the trade should be facilitated. So, there are lots of drags because of lack of understanding. I think we have reached a stage now where we have an understanding of what the Single Window will be and the structure has to be approved and we have to do a process that will procure the equipment that would be deployed,” she said.
The executive secretary of the Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC), Mr. Hassan Bello, said that the lack of single window had affected the efficiency of the seaports. Bello said that single window will eliminate inefficiencies and lead to the simplification of documents and shorten the dwell time of cargoes at the seaports. He said: “It has affected the efficiency of our ports because the national single window is a trade facilitation platform preferably electronic that will bring all users and providers of shipping services together.
The single window will eliminate inefficiencies and lead to simplification of documentation. “It will lead to transparency and shorten the dwell time of cargo. National single window and the Cargo Tracking Note are all trade facilitation platforms,” he said. Bello further stated that the National Single Window would cut down the cost of shipping and clearance. Similarly a shipping expert, Dabney Shall-Homa, said that Nigeria loses both revenue and cargo clearance to the absence of the platform. Shall-Homa, a former director at the Nigerian Shippers Council, said: “We are losing everything because of lack of single window. A single window has three disparities: ship documentation and tracking, documentation itself with transaction, so we are losing in terms of transactions, we are losing in even understanding the way things are.”
Also, former national president, Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents, (ANLCA), Olayiwola Shittu, urged the federal government to support the adoption and implementation of a Single Window System to ensure swift movement of goods and services in the ports. Shittu, who wondered why the Nigerian government was delaying the implementation of the system, advised the relevant agencies in the maritime sector to follow the footsteps of Nigeria’s neighbouring countries which have implemented the window. He stated: “When single window was established at the Cotonou Port, it reduced cargo delivery time from 40 days to less than 10 days. It increased government revenue by more than 39 per cent. In terms of truck transit down to the port they gained 23 per cent of the time, so it is something we cannot run away from.”