Importers Abandon Goods At Ports Over High Charges | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Importers Abandon Goods At Ports Over High Charges

Tin Can Island Port
Posted: Jul 21, 2016 at 4:34 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

…Commence Relocation To Cotonou, Lome Ports


Ray Ugochukwu

Following the recent increase in the cost of clearing goods due to the new Central Bank of Nigeria’s (CBN) policy on foreign exchange (forex), many importers have abandoned their cargoes at the ports.

Investigations show that the importers took the decision because of non-availability of funds to enable them take delivery of the goods, which import duties have shot up by over 50 percent as a result of the new exchange rate of the naira to the United States dollar.

Before July 1 when the new forex policy took effect, goods denominated in foreign currencies were cleared at N197 to the dollar but with the new regime clearing cost went astronomically high as exchange rate rose to about N290 to the dollar, an increase of about 50 percent.

Our correspondent learnt of the case of an importer, who had brought in an undisclosed model of a Toyota Siena space wagon through the Tin Can Island Port, Apapa, Lagos, and had the duty put at N1.4 million before the commencement of the new exchange rate.

It was, however, gathered that when the said importer came to make payment to the bank last week, the duty had shut up to N2.1 million, a difference of N700,000, a development sources said made him to abandon the vehicle at the terminal.

Independent also gathered that many of the importers have begun to close shops in the country preferring to relocate to Republic of Benin and Togo where they claim business-friendly policies hold sway.

As the importers are shutting down and laying off workers, their agents are said to be following suit since there are no more jobs to do from their principals, it was learnt.

With this development, Mr. Onyebuchi Obah, a topflight freight forwarder and the image maker of the National Council of Managing Directors of Licensed Customs Agents (NCMDLCA), Tin Can Island chapter, has asked the Federal Government to intervene into the matter urgently.

In a chat with Independent, he expressed fears that with the imminent migration of Nigerian shippers to neighbouring ports, the rate of smuggling would be unimaginable to contend with by the Nigeria Customs Service.

Obah, who is the Chief Executive Officer, Obantus Nigeria Limited, a freight forwarding outfit, added that since the owners of the Cotonou or Lome destined cargoes would not want to pay the astronomical duties at the border, the only option would be to smuggle them in at the expense of the nation’s economy.

He added that the outlandish new exchange rate had been made worse by the over 120 percent increase in the cost of procuring documents that usually go with the opening of Form M at the CBN.

A highly placed Customs source told our correspondent that before now the service had been squeezing itself to generate revenue following the unfriendly economic environment that had beclouded the sector since last year.

It added that the new forex policy had finally sounded a death knell on the coffin of Customs revenue machinery, adding that it would be highly impossible for the service to meet up the N1.2 trillion target set for it by government.

Meanwhile, the umbrella body of the country’s freight forwarders, the National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF), has called on Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, the Minister of Finance, to intervene to save the situation.

In a July 13, 2016 statement by the association, it urged the minister to do so by applying her discretional powers as guaranteed by the Customs & Excise Management Act (CEMA).

NAGAFF maintained in the statement, signed by its National Publicity Secretary, Mr. Stanley Ezenga, that under Sections 4(1) and 6 of CEMA, the minister, who doubles as the Chairman, Customs Board, could mitigate the sufferings of the masses and the attendant job losses the forex policy was instigating in the country.

“Without prejudice to the fact that the Federal Government is in dire need of money to prosecute its social responsibilities, it is a major responsibility equally on the part of the government to ensure the general welfare of the citizens. Under the circumstance of inflationary exchange rate palaver, the inherent powers of the finance minister and the Customs Comptroller General (CGC) under Section 5 of CEMA should be evoked and deployed to give direction as to how best trade can be encouraged.