The automation of the import duty exemption certification (IDEC) process will commence in the first quarter of next year, Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, announced on Friday in Abuja.
The minister, who spoke at the opening of the meeting of the interest groups of the IDEC project in Abuja, said the decision to automate the process was part of the government’s effort to eliminate human interface in the processing of duty waiver applications.
The current process, which lacks transparency, involves lengthy bureaucratic processes that usually last between 60 to 180 days.
The minister said the high incidences of revenue losses by government was due to the manual processing of applications, resulting in multiple approvals and delays in processing applications.
Between 2011 and 2015, the government said it conceded about N1 trillion to grants in just four categories of waivers.
Also, she said the manual process encouraged indiscriminate allocations and subjectivity in the approval process, which pose major constraints to monitoring, evaluation and standardising the process of granting waivers and certificates.
Resolving the challenge
To resolve these challenges, the minister said the ministry initiated the repositioning of the administration, application and processes of acquiring IDEC in the country.
The reform in the IDEC system, she said, involved re-engineering the process from application to issuance and validation by the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) powered by digital technology.
The reform is to administer exemptions, concessions and other economic incentives as fiscal policy measures targeted at stimulating various priority sectors of the economic growth, she added.
On December 11, the meeting of the Executive Council of the Federation (FEC) unanimously approved the IDEC project implementation plan, which is part of the key priorities of government to create employment, reduce poverty, stimulate macroeconomic conditions for sustainable growth and development.
Meanwhile, the Permanent Secretary (Special Duties), Mohammed Dikwa, said the automated process will replace the current manual process of application, processing of waivers, determination of eligibility of applicants, validation of previously granted waivers, and reporting utilization of waivers.
Mr Dikwa, who was represented by the Director, Department of Technical Services in the Minstry, Fatima Hayatu, said Messrs FourCore Technology Solutions Limited was engaged to develop and manage the new system.
Apart from providing the infrastructure to automate the entire process end-to-end, Messrs FourCore Technology Solutions was to also process, grant, validate, renew the applications and check the levels of utilsation of waivers.
With the new system, the processing time for granting duty waivers has been reduced to an average of three and five working days.
He said the project will also cover the Vehicle Identification Number Registration (VREG), to provide a national repository of all VINs in the country, including the ones coming into the country through our national ports of entry.
The new national VIN system, which provides a centralised registry that draws historical data from a global VIN repository, will keep track of vehicles coming in and out of the country.
“The VIN registration process will serve as a check for all smuggled vehicles into the country as it provides a unified database for all vehicles independent of their point of entry and provides a basis for Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) to effectively collect duties on smuggled vehicles,” Mr Dikwa said.
“The VREG will also provide a single window to access VIN related information, which will be relevant to the Vehicle Inspection Office (VIO), Police, Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC), insurance bodies, tax and security agencies.
“It will also enable visibility to curb incidences of theft, vehicle licensing information duplication, insurance fraud and comprehensive enforcement of vehicle duty payments independent of mode or point of entry into Nigeria,” he noted.