To enhance checks on the importation of fake and substandard products into Nigeria in line with established protocols, plans are underway to operationalise the National Single Window (NSW) project as well as deploy scanners at the nation’s seaports before year-end.
The Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Adeniyi Adebayo, stated this at an investigative hearing on the incessant influx of fake, substandard and counterfeit products into Nigeria, organized by the House of Representatives Joint Committee on Commerce; Industry; Information; National Orientation; Ethics and Values.
The Minister said there is an implementation committee at work, of which he is a member, to ensure the single window and scanners are deployed appropriately.
He said: “This will significantly improve cargo turnaround time at our ports, promote efficiency and transparency, thereby removing the corruption opportunities that fuel the entry of substandard goods into the country, and enhance Nigerian ports’ competitiveness in the West African region.”
Similarly, the Federal Government has called on relevant agencies to further strengthen the enforcement of the Standards Organisation of Nigeria Conformity Assessment Programme (SONCAP), alongside the proposed the Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council (PEBEC) intervention.
Under the programme, importers of a wide range of goods must obtain two certificates to operate: Product Certificate (PC), unregistered, registered or licensed; and the SONCAP Certificate (SC).
Special Adviser to the President on Ease of Doing Business, Dr Jumoke Oduwole, represented at the hearing by Mrs Oluwatoyin Bashir, said the action would further complement government’s efforts to improve efficiency at the ports.
Oduwole said streamlining agencies’ operations at the port is at the core of Nigeria’s ease of doing business reforms and in line with global best practices aimed at removing bureaucratic constraints and reducing costs of doing business at the ports.
She, however, commended SON for the phased automation of compliance certification process amongst other innovations in their operations.
Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, represented by the Minority Leader, Ndidi Elumelu, earlier commended the effort of the Joint Committee and expressed the hope that the hearing will unravel the root causes of the influx of counterfeit products into Nigeria.
Chairman of the House Committee on Commerce, Olufemi Fakeye, said the hearing was vital to curbing the incidence of substandard products that has led to avoidable incidents in the country.
He said the hearing “will also contribute to the arduous task of addressing the challenges of eradicating imported counterfeit products, particularly in view of Nigeria’s commitment to the African Continental Free Trade Agreement.”
With the Single Window, port community portal and functional scanners at the ports, PEBEC aims to ensure that save the exception of the lead agencies – Nigerian Customs Service, Nigerian Ports Authority and Nigerian Police Force, there will be little or no need for routine physical examination of cargo by additional agencies at the ports.