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EU Blacklists 17 Tax Haven Countries



European Union Finance Ministers have adopted the first ever list of tax havens, which includes 17 countries that fail to meet agreed tax good governance standards, the European Commission informed.

The list of non-cooperative jurisdictions for tax purposes was adopted on December 5 during a meeting in Brussels. In addition, 47 countries have committed to addressing deficiencies in their tax systems and to meet the required criteria, following contacts with the EU.

The list includes American Samoa, Bahrain, Barbados, Grenada, Guam, Republic of Korea, Macao SAR, Marshall Islands, Mongolia, Namibia, Palau, Panama, Saint Lucia, Samoa, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, and the United Arab Emirates.

The move is expected to raise the level of tax good governance globally and help prevent the large-scale tax abuse recently exposed in the Paradise Papers, which caused a stir in various sectors, including the shipping industry.

“The adoption of the first ever EU blacklist of tax havens marks a key victory for transparency and fairness. But the process does not stop here. We must intensify the pressure on listed countries to change their ways,” Pierre Moscovici, Commissioner for Economic and Financial Affairs, Taxation and Customs, said.

“Blacklisted jurisdictions must face consequences in the form of dissuasive sanctions, while those that have made commitments must follow up on them quickly and credibly. There must be no naivety: promises must be turned into actions. No one must get a free pass,” Moscovici added.

The idea of an EU list was originally conceived by the Commission and subsequently taken forward by Member States. Compilation of the list has prompted active engagement from many of the EU’s international partners.

However, the Commission said that work must now continue as 47 more countries should meet EU criteria by the end of 2018, or 2019 for developing countries without financial centres, to avoid being listed.

The Commission also expects Member States to continue towards strong and dissuasive countermeasures for listed jurisdictions which can complement the existing EU-level defensive measures related to funding.

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China Pledges Support for FG’s Efforts At Harnessing Inland Waterways Transportation



China Pledges Support for FG's Efforts At Harnessing Inland Waterways Transportation

…As Yuqing highlights why China adopted a near-perfect waterway transport system

The People’s Republic Of China has promised its assistance to the Nigerian Government in promoting inland waterway transit as a means of reducing port traffic around the country.

The revelation was made by Ms. Yan Yuqing, the Chinese Consul General, during the Zoe Maritime Resources Ltd.-organized Breakfast Meeting on Security and New Technologies for Inland Waterways Transportation in Lagos on Thursday.

According to Yuqing, Nigeria boasts several notable rivers with enormous potential for the development of inland waterway transportation, including the Niger, Osun, and Cross Rivers.

According to her, inland waterway transport is currently driven by several profitable areas of the Chinese economy, and China is willing to work with the current Nigerian government to clear the country’s ports.

She said that although there is a lot of interaction between manufacturing and waterway transportation, the productive sector’s usage of China’s inland waterways has resulted in a low level of atmospheric carbonisation.

She explained that the near-perfect waterway transport system was adopted by China, adding that the Chinese government had completed the construction of 16 new automatic container terminals, with more than 10 currently being constructed.

According to Yuging, China has built transportation connections with over 100 nations and areas worldwide.

According to her, China is now the world’s largest shipowner country in terms of gross tonnage, with its shipping companies owning a fleet of 249.2 million gross tonnes.

“Waterway freight accounts for China is about 17 per cent of the national freight volume, while its cargo turnover accounts for about 54 per cent of the total turnover in the transportation system.

“The new quality productive forces are an important driving force for the development of waterway transportation.

“The new quality productivity forces are innovation-led, oppose damage to the ecological environment, promoting the low-carbonisation of economic and social development, and the collaborative development of high-quality economic development and high-level protection of the environment.

“The new quality productive forces introduce digitalisation and intelligence into China’s inland waterway and maritime transport systems, and at the same time call for the protection of the oceans while exploiting their resources, to achieve sustainable development for all mankind.

“China has constructed 16 Automated Container Terminals, with more than 10 currently under construction, both ranking first in the world. At present, the mileage covered by the national ENC (Electronic Navigational Charts) is more than 5700 kilometres.

“China adheres to the sustainable use of fishery resources, continue the fishing moratorium arrangements and take resolute countermeasures against illegal fishing.

“China has also passed laws to protect the oceans. Last October, Chinese lawmakers voted to adopt a revised Marine Environment Protection Law which took effect on Jan. 1, 2024.

“The newly revised law highlights prioritising protection and tackling problems at their source, as well as coordinating activities on land and at sea to protect the ocean environment.

“The revised law underscores the protection of marine biodiversity, stresses strict control over pollution, and requires that measures be taken to prevent solid waste from entering the sea,” Yuging said.

The Minister of Marine and Blue Economy, Mr. Adegboyega Oyetola, praised the organisers for emphasising the critical nexus between inland waterways’ security and emerging technology in his keynote address. discussing transport as a topic.

The National Inland Waterways Authority was established with the responsibility of overseeing Nigeria’s extensive inland waterway resources, according to Oyetola, who was represented by Mrs. Selly Ekanem, Deputy Director Cabotage of the Ministry.

According to him, NIWA was also founded to enhance and expand the nation’s inland waterways navigation system, but over time, it has faced a number of difficulties that have impeded its growth, including:

“Non-channelisation and dredging of navigable rivers, inadequate construction and rehabilitation of river ports, limited water transport infrastructures. (comfortable boats, jetties and buoys), low investment.

“Other challenges faced by NIWA include lack of strict implementation of regulations,

lack of coordination between national and sub-regional institutions as well as safety and security concerns along the navigable waterways.

“As you are aware, the Inland waterways transportation system is an essential element of integrated transport systems, being one of the oldest means of transporting goods and services from one point to another.

“Nevertheless, the least developed compared to air and road transportation, most especially in Nigeria.

“It is worthy to note that when the Inland waterways transportation system is properly developed, it will be characterised by high transport volume, low energy consumption, and low negative environmental impact,” Oyetola said.

He reassured Nigerians that inland waterways will be used safely, sustainably, and for growth and development, but that more work must be done to ensure sustainable growth.

Malam Muhammed Bello-Koko, the managing director of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), stated that the organisation was collaborating with marine police officers to ensure that all ports were secure, including enlisting the police to lessen criminal activity in the port area.

Bello-Koko announced that the Calabar-Warri ports now had a Marine Police section thanks to their administration. Bello-Koko was accompanied by Mr. Muhammad Khalil, General Manager of Ports Security, and other representatives.

*L-R General Manager, Ports Security, Mr Muhammed Khalil, a director in Niger Benue Transport Co Ltd.; Mrs Uche Chigbo, the Chief Executive Officer, Zoe Maritime Resources Ltd.; Mrs Oritsematosan Edodo-Emore, The Consul General of China; Ms Yan Yuqing, the Assistant Manager, Environment and Port Services of NIWA, Hajia Aisha Eri and the Commissioner of Police (CP), Ishola Olanrewaju, during the Breakfast Meeting on Security and New Technologies for Inland Waterways Transportation, .organised by the Zoe Maritime Resources Ltd., in Lagos on Thursday.

He said they they had finished perimeter fencing of the Lagos ports, adding that the authority had started construction of electronic gates at One and Lagos ports to improve call-up system of truck entry into the port.

Bello-Koko said that the authority had encouraged the haulage of cargo through the rail and barges, which had helped in decongesting the port and reducing the time of doing business at the port.

The Managing Director, Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA), Alhaji Munirudeen Oyebanji, who was represented by the Assistant Manager, Environment and Port Services of NIWA, Hajia Aisha Eri, said there had been a reduction in boat mishaps across the country due to constant enlightenment of boat users.

Oyebanji said that they had 21 offices across the country and they engaged water transport passengers on the importance of safety monthly in ensuring that they follow the safety procedures in accordance with the international best practices.

“Doing our monitoring, we discovered that many passengers boarded without putting down their details of the manifest despite the enlightenment.

“Sometimes some captains proved strong head by not wearing life jackets although about 80 per cent of the local captains usually survive boat mishaps, but we sanction them when they operate without life jackets.

“Although water accidents can not be totally avoided but can be properly managed with a lot of awareness and constant enlightenment.

“NIWA is working towards ensuring that stakeholders in water transport get more finance from the disbursement of the Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund (CVFF), to enable them to get standard equipment for the water transportation as well as barges for export produce into ports.

“Although some of the NIWA activities were neglected, the new administration is working round the clock in ensuring better usage of the inland services to reduce traffic on the road.

“Before 2025, we will start seeing huge development on inland operations because we are working hard in ensuring that the local community operators get funding,” Oyebanji said.

He said that NIWA had collaborated with the Nigerian Navy in ensuring no water transport activities in the night, adding that most of the boat mishaps usually occurred in the night.

The Assistant Inspector General of Police (AIG), Maritime Command, Mr Rhoda Olofu, who was represented by Commissioner of Police (CP), Ishola Olanrewaju, said they usually apprehend a lot of stole away and other related crimes within the port.

Olofu said the port crime was reducing due to the synergy among them and other security agencies such as the Nigerian Navy and other sister agencies, adding that their duties do not extend to the high sea.

The Managing Director, Niger Benue Transport Co Ltd., Mrs Oluseyi Oluyede, who was represented by Mrs Uche Chigbo, said in the past they enjoined exporting goods to Cameroon from Warri

Oluyede said that they worked with the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) and Inland waterways to export agricultural produce to Cameroon, which they conveyed between 18 vessels from Warri to Cameroon peacefully.

She said that the government’s establishment of cargo haulage for export had made their operation too low.

Oluyede commended the government’s efforts in piracy attacks, adding that they faced a lot of bunkery and miscreant attacks when they diversified to the lifting of oil business.

The Convener of the Breakfast Meeting the Chief Executive Officer, Zoe Maritime Resources Ltd., Mrs Oritsematosan Edodo-Emore, said they used the annual theme set down by the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) for the World Maritime Day to set the agenda and discourse for the year.

The theme for World Maritime Day in 2024, according to Edodo-Emore, is “Navigating the Future, Safety First,” with a network of interior waterways spanning more than 10,000 kilometres across the nation.

The speaker expressed her belief that there exists potential for the advancement of inland waterway transport and highlighted the obvious returns on investment.

“Development of inland waterways transportation will remove the pressure of transporting bulk cargo by road, it will develop coastal communities by developing river ports and ultimately reverse the trend of urban migration.

“We acknowledge that Nigeria needs a safe and secure environment to drive investment in inland waterways transportation. Armed robbery at sea and in the inland waterways poses real security challenges in the creeks and coastal communities and, of course, drives investors away.

“Although we are still grappling with maritime security challenges of various dimensions in Nigeria, the world has since moved on with new technologies in the maritime space – such as the development of unmanned or autonomous ships.

” The Internet of things, drones and artificial intelligence to mention a few at this maritime Business Roundtable, we would like to explore how to stimulate investment in inland waterways transportation by tackling security and using new technologies to stimulate the development of the sector,” Edodo-Emore said.

She acknowledged that China had the largest inland waterways in the world, adding that the ports had to be efficient to deliver on their mandates all over the world.

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Customs FOU “A” Seizes Contraband Items Worth N35.91bn in 31 Months



Customs FOU “A” Seizes Contraband Items Worth N35.91bn in 31 Months

The Nigeria Customs Service, Federal Operations Unit Zone A, says it seized 3,189 contraband items worth N35.91 billion in 31 months.

The outgoing Controller of the unit, Compt. Hussein Ejibunu, disclosed this at the unit office in Lagos on Friday, while recounting his overall activities as leader of the unit between Sept. 10, 2021 till date.

Ejibunu, who has just been transferred to the Customs Headquarters in Abuja, said further that 386 suspects were arrested in connection with some of the seizures during the period.

He added that 22 people were convicted for committing different customs offences, within 31 months.

“Prominent among the seizures but not limited to the following are 222,285 X 50kg bags of foreign parboiled rice (370 trailer loads); 1.14 million litres of premium motor spirit (33 tankers); 16,432.30kg of Indian Hemp.

“26,303 pieces of used pneumatic tyres; 11,175 bales of used clothes; 751x 70mm of live cartridges; 12,912 cartons of foreign frozen poultry products; 5,033 pieces of donkey skin.

“450 x 106kg drums of carbide; 233 cartons x 225mg of tramadol; 7,640 cartons of expired and unapproved drugs; 303 units of foreign used vehicles and 104 Haojue motorcycles.

“The Unit recovered the sum of N2.25 billion through the issuance of demand notices (D/N) due to transfer of value and wrong classification,” he said.

Ejibunu noted that the Unit worked both day and night to ensure that the successes they recorded were achieved.

He said unfortunately, while on legitimate duties within the zone’s area of operations, eight officers sustained different degrees of injuries while five lost their lives in the line of duty.

Also Read: Haruna: Galant Customs Officer Curbing Economic Sabotage, Murdered by Katsina Smugglers

Ejibunu said his journey of the leadership of the unit that commenced on Sept. 10, 2021, till date was a bit challenging but above all, very successful.

“A part of the challenges encountered when I assumed duty newly was the continued rate of suspected smugglers’ attacks on officers while on duty.

“To mitigate such levels of attacks, the unit embarked on sensitisation programmes and courtesy visits to traditional rulers of border communities which yielded a drastic reduction in the levels of deadly confrontations and attacks.

“Other successes recorded by the Unit under my watch include improved suppression of smuggling by making more seizures and arrest of suspects.

“These served as a deterrent to intending smugglers.

“We also recorded increased revenue recovery through meticulous documentary checks and issuance of demand notices on goods found to have been underpaid.

“Enhanced trade facilitation by providing escorts for goods on fast track for compliant traders,” he said.

The outgoing officer expressed his appreciation to the customs management under the leadership of Comptroller-General Bashir Adeniyi, for giving him the opportunity to serve as the head of the command.

He commended officers and men of the unit for their untiring support, dedication, gallantry and uncompromising posture in the fight against smuggling and revenue recovery.

Ejibunu also appreciated compliant traders, importers and agents for being patriotic and sincere in their declarations, and for being compliant with the extant Customs procedures.

He said he was also grateful to patriotic members of the public for providing useful and timely information that aided the success of some of their operations.

In his acceptance speech, the new Controller of the command, Compt. Kola Oladeji, appreciated the commitment of the outgoing comptroller, promising to try his best to keep the flag flying.

He urged the media to extend the cooperation given to Ejibunu to him while he promised to operate an open-door policy.

“I served as a Customs Intelligence Officer in many commands such as Tincan Island, Apapa, at the headquarters in Abuja, Zamfara among other places.

“I am appealing to officers and men of this command not to mind my face as much as my mind because it is my intelligence and investigational background that has made me strict.

“I will work under the core mandate of the service which is to combat smuggling, generate revenue and facilitate legitimate trade, which will be fairly implemented.

“We have nothing to hide but in terms of intelligent contribution, we need everyone’s support,” Oladeji said.

The Deputy Comptroller in charge of Administration of Zone ‘A’, Judith Kanu, appreciated the outgoing comptroller for the exemplary leadership he had demonstrated during his tenure.

Kanu said that none of the staff was reported to the headquarters during his tenure, adding that he and his managing officers corrected their differences maturely.

She pleaded with her colleagues to extend the support given to the past Comptroller to Oladeji to enable the Federal Government to succeed in combating smuggling and facilitating legitimate trade.

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Haruna: Galant Customs Officer Curbing Economic Sabotage, Murdered by Katsina Smugglers



Haruna: Galant Customs officer Curbing Economic Sabotage, murdered by Katsina Smugglers

…CGC Reaffirms unwavering commitment towards border security

 Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) has sorrowfully announced the tragic passing of Customs Assistant II Auwal Haruna. 

The unfortunate incident occurred at the Gamji Makaho checkpoint in Dankama area of Katsina State on the morning of April 17, 2024. He has been buried, in line with Islamic rites.

According to the Customs National image maker, Abdullahi Maiwada, the melee was triggered when a team of customs officers attached to Katsina Area Command attempted to intercept a convoy of over fifty vehicles transporting goods suspected of illegal movement outside the country. 

“Haruna and his fellow officers exhibited remarkable courage in their duty to thwart these audacious economic saboteurs.

 “Their actions sparked a confrontation with an enraged mob who viciously attacked and fatally assaulted CA II Auwal Haruna. He has since been laid to rest according to Islamic rites in his hometown, Kayawa, under the Dutsi Local Government Area of Katsina state”, the Service stated, noting the deep and genuine sorrows of the Comptroller General.

“The Comptroller General of Customs (CGC), Bashir Adewale Adeniyi, and the entire NCS fraternity extend heartfelt condolences to the CA II Auwal Haruna family. He also vehemently condemns the senseless act of violence that led to his untimely demise and assures a comprehensive investigation into this tragic incident to ensure justice is served.

“The CGC underscores the perilous challenges officers face in their daily mission to safeguard the nation’s borders. Under his stewardship, he assures that the NCS stands firmly united with the fallen officer’s family during this period of profound grief.

“The NCS remains steadfast in its efforts to combat illegal activities such as smuggling, prioritising Nigeria’s border integrity while ensuring the safety of citizens and dedicated customs personnel”, the National Public Relations Officer further stated.

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