A Single Window expert, Dr Somnuk Keretho has stated that for Nigeria to improve in the World Bank Ease-of-Doing-Business ranking, the nation needs to implement the Single Window facility as a national policy.
Dr Keretho, a senior lecturer at the Institute for Information Technology Innovation in Bangkok, Thailand, spoke exclusively to Nigerian Tribune in Akosombo, Ghana during the Ghana National Single Window Media Trade Facilitation Workshop sponsored by West Blue Consulting.
According to him, “in Thailand, 36 government agencies and departments are involved in the country’s Single Window facility. I have been working with the Thailand government on the Single Window project for the past 10 years.
“I have been involved in helping my government do the feasibility studies and road map development of the Single Window project. In Thailand, departments like that of agriculture, fisheries, food and drug, transport and many other regulatory agencies of government have keyed into the Single Window project.
“Most of the Thailand clearing process is now in their electronic forms. Nigeria can take a cue from this. It takes just 24 hours to clear goods at Thailand ports, that is for Customs clearance. We have less than 10 per cent of shipment that go for physical examination.
“I was in Nigeria in 2012 and I noticed that even though the Customs process is electronic, there are still many manual forms of cargo clearance. You see people moving from one office to the other with paper documents.
“Nigeria needs to embark on automation of majority of her clearing process. There is need to reduce the amount of physical examination at the Nigerian seaports and border stations. There ought to be better coordination between Customs and other regulatory agencies.
“At a point, Thailand was number 10 in the World Bank Ease-of-Doing-Business report. Now we have gone back a little bit because other countries are improving. Nigeria needs to reduce the amount of paper clearance at her border stations and seaport port.
“The Nigerian Customs Service (NCS) has already introduced the Single Window project, but it won’t work if others don’t key in.
“If the Nigerian government can muster the political will and make the facility a national policy, the country definitely has the potential to be number one in the continent.”
It would be recalled that Nigeria slumped backwards in the latest World Bank Ease-Of-Doing-Business chart, as the nation’s economy slumped to number 182 out of 189 economies in 2016; a figure that was 20 places worse off than what the nation polled in the last quarter of 2015 when she was ranked 169 out of the same number of economies.
According to the World Bank Doing business-Trading across borders report 2016, Nigeria economy is just better than six economies globally in terms of ease of doing business across trade border.
Parameters used in the latest World Bank report are Customs clearance and inspections; inspection by other agencies of government; port or border handling at most widely used port or border of the economy; obtaining, preparing and submitting documents during clearance, inspections and port or border handling amongst others.