FG links delay in $3.2bn e-Customs project to disagreements among concession partners

The Federal Government has attributed the delay in the implementation of the $3.2 billion contract for ‘complete’ automation of the Nigerian Customs Service, approved by the Federal Executive Council, FEC, in 2020 to disagreements between partners that formed consortium for the project.

The Minister of Finance, Budget, and National Planning, Mrs. Zainab Ahmed, stated this while fielding questions from State House correspondents after the Federal Executive Council, FEC, meeting presided over by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo at the Council Chambers, Presidential Villa, Abuja.

The Minister said implementation of the e-Customs project would now commence since the party that was uncomfortable with the agreement had opted out, despite efforts by the government, through the office of the Attorney General of the Federation, AGF, to mediate.

Asked to explain the rationale behind a new e-Customs concession agreement between the NCS, Africa Finance Corporation, AFC, and China’s Huawei Technologies Limited, Mrs. Ahmed said: “The E-customs project was approved by Council. And there were some challenges that had to do with disagreements between the concession partners.

“Remember that government was not a partner of the concession, it was a group of different investing parties that came together and formed the consortium.

“The Attorney General and Minister of Justice has intervened. There were several number of meetings to try to iron out the difference. So, it has to do with shareholders, who has what responsibility. And at the end of the day, I think one of the partners in the concession did not agree with the arrangements.

“So, the partner that signed was already in the initial concession. So, one party did not agree with the terms that are signed. And there is a new agreement that had been signed and that partner was reported to have opted out of the concession.

“I haven’t seen the report yet but it was reported to have opted out of being in the concession. So, there is a new concession agreement that has been committed. And on the part of the ministry and I know the Customs, what it means is that the implementation of E-Customs project can now start with this resolution.“

The NCS Comptroller-General, Col. Hameed Ali, retd, who signed the new contract, had explained that the NCS would generate a whopping revenue of $176 billion over the next 20 years through the implementation of the e-Customs project.

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