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CBN FOREX Policy Has Dwindled Our Revenue from Imports, Customs Boss Cries Out



  • As $40m inflows push foreign reserves to $27.9b

The Comptroller-General, Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Retired Col. Hameed Ali Tuesday cried out over the effect of the foreign exchange policies of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) on imports, saying the revenue generation of the Service has been badly hit as a result.
Noting that the Service has continued to suffer revenue shortfall since the last quarter of 2015 with N230billion, Ali called on the apex bank to do something to save the situation.

Ali who spoke during a Consultative Forum between Customs and the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) at the Customs Training School, Ikeja, Lagos, pleaded for sympathetic consideration by the CBN to review the policies, the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports.
“Customs had also made progress in getting the necessary approval for clearance of a huge backlog of imports.

“Imports in respect of which forms `M’ were opened before the commencement of the CBN foreign exchange restriction of some imported items.
“Importers of such goods could not finalise Customs clearance due to inability to obtain the Pre-Arrival Assessment Report (PAAR).

“Relief has come for such importers as we (Customs) have secured the go- ahead to waive the formalities and allow them to pay duty,’’ NAN quoted Ali as saying.
The comptroller-general said that the service had re-organised the Dispute Resolution Units and designated experienced comptrollers to head the units for quick resolution of disputes.

He said that all disputes arising from valuation and classification were now referred to the units for resolution.
Ali said that the service had been receiving complaints about rates of duty and documentation processes which differed from one port to the other.

He said that there was also the issue of different rates among terminals in the same port.
The comptroller-general said emphasis would be on professionalisation of Customs’ jobs, saying that the vision of the management was to build a pool of highly-skilled specialists.
He said specialisation would be in core areas like Valuation, Classification, Rules of Origin, Excise, Enforcement, Customs IT and Investigation.

Ali said that the activities of MAN could not be over-emphasised, adding that collaboration with the Organised Private Sector (OPS) like MAN would be an important pillar of Customs administration.
“We will therefore appreciate your feedback on our performances and government policies.

“We (Customs) encourage MAN to express its concerns about policy formulation and implementation.
“We assure you that under my watch, such contributions will form valuable inputs to our periodic reviews aimed at fine-tuning such policies for better result.
“I started operations last year. I am aware of strategic importance of Zone “A’’ to customs’ overall operations.

“I will not remain the Comptroller-General of Abuja. I will be showing more presence in Lagos and the zones,’’ he said.
Ali urged manufacturers who were having challenges in clearing their consignments before he assumed office, to lodge their complaints genuinely so that customs would handle such complaints.
He also advised members of MAN to inform the service earlier on issues concerning documentation before arrival of their consignments for quick clearance.

Ali also urged manufacturers who sought refund of charges which had accumulated on their duties in the last few years to be rest assured that it would be looked into.
He said that the service had processed the refunds.

Ali, however, urged members of MAN to assist the service on intelligence information gathering to reduce smuggling of products and encourage genuine importers and exporters.

The President of MAN, Dr Udemba Jacobs, pledged to support the comptroller-general to enable him achieve the revenue target set for the service.

Jacobs said that MAN would support Customs on intelligence information gathering, adding that the information would assist the service to achieve success.

He urged the Customs chief to look into reviewing the 41 restricted items and to also address the challenge faced by manufacturers in obtaining Form `M’ and avoid paying demurrage.
“Customs should also look into compliance with rules on importation of goods and should stop any importer not complying with cargo clearance procedures.

Also speaking, the Executive Director, GONGONI Company Ltd., Mr Kingsley Onwukwe, urged customs to look into importation of goods coming into the country.

Onwukwe said that many goods meant to be exported were being imported, adding that this had affected exporters.
A member of MAN and Chairman, Midland Galvanising, Mr Olufunmilayo Sunday, said N95 million was over- charged on different imports made by his company between 2012 and 2013.

Sunday said that all efforts to get back the amount overcharged by the Customs service had proved abortive.
He urged the Customs management to assist him in getting a refund of the amount overcharged.

In the meantime, official foreign exchange reserves increased marginally by $40 million in March on a 30-day moving average basis to $27.9 billion, data from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) have shown.

A report by FBN Quest, an investment and research firm, attributed the inflows to three possible causes: that forex sale by the CBN slowed, that it plugged some leakages or that it saw a modest rise in its inflows due to the oil price recovery of about $10/barrel in recent weeks.

The firm said reserves had stabilised over the past six weeks after $910 million decline in January.

Reserves at end-March, it said, provided 6.2 months’ cover for annual merchandise imports and 4.4 months when “we allow for services”. This would constitute adequate cover, were it not for the huge import demand of segments of the economy.

“Our enquiries suggest that the CBN has not slowed its sales of forex, which amount to about $200 million per week. We may have to review our estimates of demand, however, since the CBN last week returned about N400 billion to the banks in naira collateral attached to unmet forex bids,” it said.

FBN Quest explained that a sharp fall from previous weeks could prove a “one-off or could tell us that importers have reduced their orders through their banks because they have adopted a realistic take on forex supply at the CBN”. “At the same time, banks may feel they could better deploy funds currently lodged at the CBN for two days before and two days after the sales. We, therefore, attribute the improved outcome for reserves in March to the oil price recovery and, probably, some steps taken on leakages,” it said.

Gross external reserves stood at $28.33 billion at end-June 2015, compared with $34.24 billion at end-December 2014, representing a decrease of 17.3 per cent. The end-June 2015 level of reserves was equivalent to 5.8 months compared with 7.0 months of imports at end-December 2014. The fall in reserves was due to the sharp decline in foreign exchange inflow from $23.66 billion in the second half of 2014 to $15.28 billion at end-June 2015. The development reflected a decrease of US$8.38 billion or 35.4 per cent. Total foreign exchange outflow was $21.07 billion in the first half of 2015, compared with $26.33 billion in the second half of 2014, indicating a decrease of 20.0 per cent.

Shipping day with additional report from Upshot


WAIVER CESSATION: Igbokwe urges NIMASA to evolve stronger collaboration with Ships owners



…Stresses the need for timely disbursement of N44.6billion CVFF***

Highly revered Nigerian Maritime Lawyer, and Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Mike Igbokwe has urged the Nigeria Maritime Administration and safety Agency (NIMASA) to partner with ship owners and relevant association in the industry to evolving a more vibrant merchant shipping and cabotage trade regime.

Igbokwe gave the counsel during his paper presentation at the just concluded two-day stakeholders’ meeting on Cabotage waiver restrictions, organized by NIMASA.

“NIMASA and shipowners should develop merchant shipping including cabotage trade. A good start is to partner with the relevant associations in this field, such as the Nigeria Indigenous Shipowners Association (NISA), Shipowners Association of Nigeria (SOAN), Oil Trade Group & Maritime Trade Group of the Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (NACCIMA).

“A cursory look at their vision, mission and objectives, show that they are willing to improve the maritime sector, not just for their members but for stakeholders in the maritime economy and the country”.

Adding that it is of utmost importance for NIMASA to have a through briefing and regular consultation with ships owners, in other to have insight on the challenges facing the ship owners.

“It is of utmost importance for NIMASA to have a thorough briefing and regular consultations with shipowners, to receive insight on the challenges they face, and how the Agency can assist in solving them and encouraging them to invest and participate in the maritime sector, for its development. 

“NIMASA should see them as partners in progress because, if they do not invest in buying ships and registering them in Nigeria, there would be no Nigerian-owned ships in its Register and NIMASA would be unable to discharge its main objective.

The Maritime lawyer also urged NIMASA  to disburse the Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund (CVFF)that currently stands at about N44.6 billion.

“Lest it be forgotten, what is on the lips of almost every shipowner, is the need to disburse the Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund (the CVFF’), which was established by the Coastal and Inland Shipping Act, 2003. It was established to promote the development of indigenous ship acquisition capacity, by providing financial assistance to Nigerian citizens and shipping companies wholly owned by Nigerian operating in the domestic coastal shipping, to purchase and maintain vessels and build shipping capacity. 

“Research shows that this fund has grown to about N44.6billion; and that due to its non-disbursement, financial institutions have repossessed some vessels, resulting in a 43% reduction of the number of operational indigenous shipping companies in Nigeria, in the past few years. 

“Without beating around the bush, to promote indigenous maritime development, prompt action must be taken by NIMASA to commence the disbursement of this Fund to qualified shipowners pursuant to the extant Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund (“CVFF”) Regulations.

Mike Igbokwe (SAN)

“Indeed, as part of its statutory functions, NIMASA is to enforce and administer the provisions of the Cabotage Act 2003 and develop and implement policies and programmes which will facilitate the growth of local capacity in ownership, manning and construction of ships and other maritime infrastructure. Disbursing the CVFF is one of the ways NIMASA can fulfill this mandate.

“To assist in this task, there must be collaboration between NIMASA, financial institutions, the Minister of Transportation, as contained in the CVFF Regulations that are yet to be implemented”, the legal guru highlighted further. 

He urged the agency to create the right environment for its stakeholders to build on and engender the needed capacities to fill the gaps; and ensure that steps are being taken to solve the challenges being faced by stakeholders.

“Lastly, which is the main reason why we are all here, cessation of ministerial waivers on some cabotage requirements, which I believe is worth applause in favour of NIMASA. 

“This is because it appears that the readiness to obtain/grant waivers had made some of the vessels and their owners engaged in cabotage trade, to become complacent and indifferent in quickly ensuring that they updated their capacities, so as not to require the waivers. 

“The cessation of waivers is a way of forcing the relevant stakeholders of the maritime sector, to find workable solutions within, for maritime development and fill the gaps in the local capacities in 100% Nigerian crewing, ship ownership, and ship building, that had necessitated the existence of the waivers since about 15 years ago, when the Cabotage Act came into being. 

“However, NIMASA must ensure that the right environment is provided for its stakeholders to build and possess the needed capacities to fill the gaps; and ensure that steps are being taken to solve the challenges being faced by stakeholders. Or better still, that they are solved within the next 5 years of its intention to stop granting waivers”, he further explained. 

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Breaking News: The Funeral Rites of Matriarch C. Ogbeifun is Live



The Burial Ceremony of Engr. Greg Ogbeifun’s mother is live. Watch on the website: and on Youtube: Maritimefirst Newspaper.

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Wind Farm Vessel Collision Leaves 15 Injured



…As Valles Steamship Orders 112,000 dwt Tanker from South Korea***

A wind farm supply vessel and a cargo ship collided in the Baltic Sea on Tuesday leaving 15 injured.

The Cyprus-flagged 80-meter general cargo ship Raba collided with Denmark-flagged 31-meter wind farm supply vessel World Bora near Rügen Island, about three nautical miles off the coast of Hamburg. 

Many of those injured were service engineers on the wind farm vessel, and 10 were seriously hurt. 

They were headed to Iberdrola’s 350MW Wikinger wind farm. Nine of the people on board the World Bora were employees of Siemens Gamesa, two were employees of Iberdrola and four were crew.

The cause of the incident is not yet known, and no pollution has been reported.

After the collision, the two ships were able to proceed to Rügen under their own power, and the injured were then taken to hospital. 

Lifeboat crews from the German Maritime Search and Rescue Service tended to them prior to their transport to hospital via ambulance and helicopter.

“Iberdrola wishes to thank the rescue services for their diligence and professionalism,” the company said in a statement.

In the meantime, the Hong Kong-based shipowner Valles Steamship has ordered a new 112,000 dwt crude oil tanker from South Korea’s Sumitomo Heavy Industries Marine & Engineering.

Sumitomo is to deliver the Aframax to Valles Steamship by the end of 2020, according to data provided by Asiasis.

The newbuild Aframax will join seven other Aframaxes in Valles Steamship’s fleet. Other ships operated by the company include Panamax bulkers and medium and long range product tankers.

The company’s most-recently delivered unit is the 114,426 dwt Aframax tanker Seagalaxy. The naming and delivery of the tanker took place in February 2019, at Namura Shipbuilding’s yard in Japan.

Maritime Executive with additional report from World Maritime News

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