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CBN Forex Policy Results In N230bn Revenue Shortfall- Customs

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  • As Head, Abuja MOU, Usoro Resigns‏ 

The Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) at the weekend confirmed that the current Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN)  foreign exchange restrictions policy has actually resulted in a whooping N230bn shortfall in anticipated revenue, in the last quarter of 2015.

The Comptroller General of Customs,  Col. Hameed Ali confirmed this at the weekend,  while rounding up a week long working visit to Lagos and other operational areas in the South West part of the country at weekend; during which the CGC hosted and brainstormed with members of the  Manufacturers  Association of Nigeria (MAN) on issues of serious mutual concerns.

Customs PRO and Image Maker, WALE ADENIYI

Customs PRO and Image Maker, WALE ADENIYI

The  CGC said the Service has subsequently forwarded a position paper to the Office of the Vice President, Federal Republic of Nigeria, urging for a review of some policies of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

The Manufacturers had in the course of the forum identified certain militating impacts of the  CBN’s policy, especially those relating to banning of some items from  accessing its Forex Allocation.

Building on both parties growing areas of mutual understanding and cordiality, the CGC has therefore stressed the need  for a more encompassing approach involving a greater commitment to honest declaration and zero-tolerance for sharp practices.

Specifically,  to formalize the unfolding laudable relationship, a joint Customs – MAN  team was agreed to be set up to harmonise areas of conflict in a  current draft Memorandum of Understanding, via Continuous engagement, honest declaration, training of Importers,  even as a regular advocacy was recommended to address the issue of value upliftments and queries.

Customs was strongly enjoined to monitor its new  Dispute Resolution Mechanism (DRM) and review it for modification if there are gaps in implementation.

Shedding further light on this,  the National image maker of the Service,  Deputy Comptroller,  Wale Adeniyi actually commended the Manufacturers,  especially in respect of their desire to fully cooperate with the CGC in his onerous task of safeguarding revenue, on contentious declaration s, adding that the forum was encouraging the Service to balance that out by  availing importers the opportunity to use the Bond option to avoid  heavy demurrage pending final resolution of such disputes.

“The forum noted the growing violation of Intellectual Property Rights  of Nigerian Manufacturers resulting in the faking of their products by  foreign companies and called for regular exchange of information, tracking of suspect cargo,  in addition to advocating for stronger collaboration to address the issue of  trade malpractices”,  Adeniyi indicated further.

On the complaints over Export Expansion Grant, EEG, the Forum noted  that its suspension was due to incessant abuse by some beneficiaries  who indulged in racketeering and other vices,  and recommended that since some companies played according to the rules,  the on-going investigation should be encouraged,  so as to work towards entrenching a better incentive mechanism for exporters.

In the meantime, there is a  strong possibility that the Ikorodu Lighter Terminal, as part of the bid to optimize it’s operation may be transformed into an export terminal.

The CGC who stated this also disclosed  that the Customs Management was already considering the remodeling of the facility as a terminal designated to handle exports, under an rrangement, in which containers of Export will be trucked to the terminal from where they will be moved in Barges to the main Ports of Apapa and Tin-Can Island Ports.

In the meantime, the Secretary General of the Abuja MoU, an institutionalized Memorandum of Understanding for Port State Control (PSC) for vessels operating in the West and Central African Region, Mfon Usoro has resigned.

The resignation which takes effect from June 2016, according to insiders actually caught several stakeholders napping, as Nigeria was not yet recognized as a country where any leader resigns, until either a  tenure expire or is sacked.

Informed sources told the Maritime First that the former Director General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) had earlier indicated her desire to quit, based on the failure of the authorities to provide certain equipment and manpower needs,  needed to make her organization sufficiently strong enough to compete with other MoUs, particularly the Parisian and Indian.

The source revealed that Mrs. Usoro finally decided to leave, despite plea from the Federal Ministry of Transportation, opting to move to where she would derive higher satisfaction, than stay put and watch the Abuja MoU only do more jaw-jaw than, actively and effectively policing the water in her operational jurisdictions.

“You know Madam is very vibrant person. She opted to leave,  because her dream of growing a vibrant and a highly efficient outfit was not being met”,  our source disclosed further,  declining to comment if Mrs Usoro could be persuaded, by a Ministerial assurances to reequip the MoU.

It was further learnt that the resignation had also been communicated to the Chairman of Abuja MoU, who is also Congo’s Minister of Transport; Mr. Rodolphe Adada.

Abuja MoU is expected to exercise control in several areas, including the inspection of foreign ships in our regional ports through Port State Control officers or inspectors: verifying the competency of the master and officers on board; the condition of the ships,  as well as the on board equipment in terms of compliance with the requirements of international conventions,  especially the SOLAS, MARPOL, and STCW.

The Abuja MoU is also expected to relate and interface as equals to its counterparts,  such as the Indian Ocean MoU, the Mediterranean MoU, Paris MoU, Tokyo MoU, Acuerdo Latino MoU, Caribbean MoU, Black Sea MoU and Riyadh MoU.

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

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…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

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

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Wind Farm Vessel Collision Leaves 15 Injured

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…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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