The National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF) may be intensifying its bid to see the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) and Council for Regulations of Freight Forwarders of Nigeria (CRFFN) resolve the thorny issue of who gives final approval or license to those going into freight forwarding business.
The NAGAFF from every indication, believes that practitioners, once licensed by the CRFFN as freight forwarders should be able to practice, whereas the Customs and Excise Management Act (CEMA), prescribed otherwise, until one becomes a licensed Customs agent, he may not ‘clear’ others cargo.
Already, the association has dispatched some letters to both the Ministers of Finance and Transport, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo Iweala and Senator Idris Umar, stressing the need for relevant stakeholders meeting to resolve it.
The meeting which the group insists should include the Customs, CRFFN, Nigeria Shippers Council, (NSC), Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), NAGAFF, Council of Managing Directors (NCMDLCA) AREFF, NAFFAC and the. Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA), should come together and harmonise the grey areas.
Pointing out that the CRFFN may forever a remain lame duck until the issue is resolved, the body also argued that non-removal of the bottleneck, would imply that operators in Nigeria would be forced to undergo double registrations; once with the Customs and the second, with the CRFFN.
“The Honourable Ministers of Transport and Finance are hereby encourage to set up a joint technical committee to harmonize the application of Customs law with freight forwarding Act 2007.
“The licensing regulation of the Nigeria Customs Service under Section 153, 154, 155, 156 and its code needs to be harmonized with the application of Section 19(a & b) of CRFFN
Act.”, the Secretary General, ( FWDR), Increase Uche wrote, in the letters, stressing that the two legislative instruments appeared to be in conflict because of CEMA.
“Whereas the Customs law recognizes corporate bodies licensed by Customs,
primarily the CRFFN laid emphasis on individuals whose name appear in the
register of freight forwarding.
“These two legislative instruments appeared to be in conflict because CEMA may not have recognized the nomenclature of freight forwarding practice but licensed customs agents and importers/exporters.
“The point herein canvassed is to state the obvious that freight forwarding as a profession may not materialize in reality and practice if CEMA and CRFFN operators do not seat down to harmonise positions.
“There is no doubt that the difficulties CRFFN may be having to take off
effectively for the past four years may be associated to licensing regulation of the Customs. Whereas the freight forwarders as professionals do not require Custom license to practice, the Nigeria Customs may not be prepared to accept any declaration made to it by a freight forwarder whose name appeared in the register of freight forwarding in Nigeria. This is the dark spot and conflict zone” the NAGAFF scribe concluded.
An industry analyst who spoke on the issue however said that whereas the view being campaigned for by NAGAFF was laudable, it may not be easily attainable, because the two Ministers expected to resolve it have separate visions and goals to pursue.