The Nigerian Senate has commended the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) for installing an Enterprise Screening Platform (ESP) through which the leakages experienced in the allocation and management of foreign exchange (forex) as well as the collection of revenue in the country by the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) can be blocked.
The Chairman of the Senate Joint Committee on Customs, Excise & Tariff and Marine Transport, Senator Hope Uzodinma, who gave the commendation, noted that the platform, designed by the CBN to aid it stabilise the naira by providing accurate cross referenced data on all trade facilitation documents like the Form M, Bill of Lading, Letters of Credit, Clean Certificate of Inspection, tracking of repatriation of forex proceeds records and online real time remote screening of inbound and outbound cargo or passengers, was timely to curb inherent leakages in revenue collection by the Customs.
Under the new arrangement, the hitherto manual examination of cargo for the purpose of duties collection by the Customs and infractions, including the abuse of Form M, violation of forex manual issued by the CBN, incorrect classification, under-valuation, under-declaration, incorrect declaration, incorrect origin, error in calculation, temporary importation, exemptions and waivers, forex manipulations, unit cost analysis and excise, smuggling and illegal removal of cargo from terminals, and lack of exit certificate by vessels, would be completely eliminated.
The measure, which has already been introduced by the CBN Governor, Mr. Godwin Emefiele, also comes with brand new scanners, which the NCS would not expend money buying new ones, and it came to the fore at the recent hearing of the Senate Joint Committee on Customs, Excise and Tariff and Marine Transport headed by Senator Uzodinma when the CBN, through the Chairman of the Technical Committee on the Comprehensive Import Supervision Scheme (CISS), Gotring Wuritka Dauda, informed the committee that Nigeria was losing trillions of naira through the manual revenue collection and other associated infractions.
Giving a detailed account of how the platform works, the CBN said the platform, as designed, would utilise its revolutionary modular architecture to integrate hardware and software solutions that would create a factual data mapping platform that ensures absolute visibility of all transactions within the import-export value chain.
The platform comprises a Network Operating Centre (NOC) that is a centralised command and control centre where realtime data from the Operational Screening Stations (OSS) are monitored. The OSS is deployed at all exit and entry points in the country (land, air and sea) and comprises high definition scanners and proprietary analysis software that are remotely linked by high speed tri-channel data path comprising a mix of VSAT, BTS and fibre channels to NOC.
The platform boasts of Remote Screening Stations (RSS), configured as a war room, which is installed at the CBN, the Nigerian Customs headquarters, the Ministry of Finance and the Presidency from where the ESP could be monitored in real time on a video graphic display with 36 panels given life views of activities across all Nigeria’s entry and exit points.
The ESP has an inbuilt remote support system that welds the geographical dispersed locations onto a single platform administered from NOC and supports them through video, audio and data channels with real life interactive personnel who use video calls, online chat, standard operations manuals and knowledge bases to support field operatives.
The data transport layer of the ESP is multi-encrypted at various points of its traffic oath with a patented Cryptographic Checksum Encryption Algorithm that convoked data integrity and fidelity on the platform.
The platform would also ensure the judicious utilisation of Nigeria’s scarce forex and ensure that genuine forex users gain unfettered and transparent access to it, thereby effectively eliminating various forex abuses while leading to the appreciation in value of the naira.
Though the NCS is yet to adapt to the new technology, it is believed that once the Service fully embraces the new platform, all the leakages associated with revenue collection and other sharp practices by NCS would be curtailed even as the scanners needed by NCS have been procured by CBN, which it (NCS) would not need to buy new ones.
Recall that the Senator Uzodimma-led committee at the hearing, frowned at the activities of a cabal at the ports, which had cost the country over N30 trillion in loss of revenue.
The cabal, the committee noted, connived with officials to carry out the infractions in daily transactions at the ports, commercial banks, shipping companies, terminal owners and operators.
It, however, pledged the determination of the committee to work with relevant agencies to stop the fraudulent practices, adding that those indicted would be prosecuted according to the law.