NAGAFF Laments Over Closure Of DTI Café, Hike in Exchange Rate | Independent Newspapers Limited
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NAGAFF Laments Over Closure Of DTI Café, Hike in Exchange Rate

Posted: Jul 20, 2016 at 1:34 am   /   by   /   comments (0)




The National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF) has lamented the closure of DTI Café and increase in exchange rate, describing it as highhandedness on the part of Federal Government.

The National Publicity Secretary of NAGAFF, Mr. Stanley Ezenga, stated that the sudden closure of DTI Cafe and the hike in exchange rate had brought untold hardship to freight Forwarders and international traders.

Ezenga said: “We write with a deep sense of regret and disbelief the level of seeming disconnect between the Customs administration on one part and the freight forwarders and traders on the other part. It is also very sad, the level of decadence in Customs relationship with practitioners and the Nigerian Shippers.”

He noted that it was an embarrassment for the Nigeria Customs Service fix the exchange rate, largely in its statutory duty with emphasises on duty collection, suppression of smuggling and provision of statistical data for budgetary Affairs, to the utter neglect of its other duties, particularly, ancillary duty like proper administration of the Customs law, as contained in Section 37 of the Customs and Excise Management Act (CEMA) CAP. C45 2004 LFN.

He said: “The protesting agents do not have reasons to do so, if Customs Authority deemed it fit to call a stakeholders meeting to inform the agents and the trading public about the introduction of the astronomical exchange rate that has changed the economic equation of trade and commerce in Nigeria at the moment.

“The point being canvassed here is that the Customs Service has distanced itself from the players that interact with them in their professional duties by not disseminating information about what concerns them in their symbiotic relationship before embarking on policy enforcement.

“This borders on impunity and a total lack of constructive engagement with stakeholders.  It would have taken nothing from the Service if only the Service had for once come down from its high horse to engage the stakeholders on the exigency of the time with respect to the exchange rate challenges that the country is presently facing.

“To further buttress this act of impunity and total disdain for the feelings of the traders, freight forwarders and agents, just overnight DTIs were shutdown without any inkling of the time this would happen.

“This foisted on the practitioners a fait accompli through an avoidable ambush that cost the country a complete shutdown of the ports system and economy.  This, when quantified in monetary terms even for just a day is humongous. 

“We believe that in these trying times in Nigeria this is a loss that is avoidable.  If the Customs Service had only taken the stakeholders along on avoidable policy implementation of shutting down entire DTI the loss inherent in the economy would have been avoided.

“Without prejudice to the fact that Federal Government is in dire need of money to prosecute its social responsibility, it is a major responsibility equally on the part of the Government to ensure general welfare of the citizens.

“Under the circumstance of inflationary exchange rate palava, the inherent powers of the Finance Minister and the CG of Customs under Section 5 of CEMA should have been evoked and deployed to give direction on how best trade can be encouraged..

“The discretional powers to benchmark the exchange rate for Customs purposes may be within the purview of the Finance Minister to direct accordingly after due consultation with CGC and CBN.

“At the moment it is apparent that Nigeria’s international trade is facing serious challenges which require due attention to curb avoidable inflation in Nigeria.  In our thinking, it is important that the Nigeria Customs Service realizes the strategic nature of the organization in our National life and economy.  Every effort should be made at all times to ensure that traders and shippers are being adequately carried along by the Customs.

“The inherent disconnect between the Customs administration, trading public and the freight forwarders must be bridged forthwith in the interest of the economy and trade.

“With regard to the last experience wherein the DTI Cafés were shutdown without any notice is to state the least an avoidable impunity and abuse of power and business friendship.

“The action of proper officers at the T & T Headquarters of the Customs was in total disregard to the National economy and not only callous but a total abuse of the delegated powers of the executive President of Nigeria under Section 5 of the Nigeria Constitution.

“It is therefore wrong and a breach of due process and the law for Nigeria Customs Service to issue password or authorization of corporate bodies licensed by the Service in that regard without  recourse to CRFFN.

“To us in NAGAFF, except to the contrary, we see the actions and operations of the Customs as being magical rather than being clear and transparent.

“The concept of “the more you look, the less you see” or at best an organized 419 to the trading public using the platform of Government machinery and coercive force. 

“It beats one’s imagination that for over time the prevalence of Customs releasing goods from the approved entry points of the seaport, airport and land border and again the same goods to be arrested and detained by the same Customs organization along the city roads and high ways of the Federation,” he stressed.