Thursday, May 30Nigeria's Authoritative Maritime News Magazine

FINANCE MINISTER TEARS NEW CEMA BILL INTO SHREDS . * Says Nigeria Customs Service cannot be autonomous.

Minister of Finance and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed

Minister of Finance and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, yesterday in Abuja took a critical look at the proposed Customs and Excise Act ammendment bill and came up with a verdict that the bill if passed in its present form cannot pass an Integrity test in line with global best practices. Zainab who spoke at a Public hearing organized by the House of Representatives Committee on Customs and Excise listed six critical areas that makes the bill draconian . Represented by a Permanent Secretary, Mr Aliyu Ahmed, she admitted that eventhough a review of the 1958 Act was imperative, any new law which does take cognizance of the Service’s primary responsibility would be dead on arrival. She listed areas where the Bill would not pass the minimum Integrity test to include plans to create an autonomous Customs regulatory body separate from the supervision of the Federal Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning. She explained that in most developed democratic nations Customs administrations are directly under the Treasury or Minstries responsible for Finance. Zainab listed some few examples to include the United Kingdom,New Zealand,Argentina, Spain, Bolivia, Peru, Uganda including neighboring Ghana. She revealed that an autonomous Customs would conflict with extant laws which vests the collection and remittance to a central purse. She also picked holes in a 13 member Customs Governing Board as being unweildy with as the Bill seeks to include Aviation, Interior , Transportation and Foreign Affairs among others . She said this is not in tandem with the Consolidated Revenue Fund and the provisions of Section 4 of the Finance ( Management and Control Act 2004) Other areas that drew the ire of the Finance Minister include, an attempt to mandate the Nigeria Customs Service to collate and publish accurate statistics without recourse to the Minister of Finance and the Federal Excutive Council