Connect with us

Archives

Nigeria Not Ripe Enough For DTI Closure – NAGAFF

Published

on

The National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF) has indicated it’s displeasure with the planned closure of the Direct Traders Input cafes and proposed issuance of Passwords to Corporate bodies, stressing that the “inherent flaws” in the new initiative would prevent Nigeria from meeting global best standards.

The body also warned in a letter dispatched to the Minister of Finance,  Kemi Adeosun, that the decision,  aside from threatening the livelihood of over 10,000 hardworking freight forwarders, would only further,  heighten the breaching of the Customs and Excise Management Act (CEMA),  already begun by the Customs Board.

“First, we strongly opine from our informed knowledge that the practice of licencing of Corporate body to perform function may be inappropriate at the moment because it does not meet the global trends in international trade supply chain and security of cargo more so, in the context of the Act 16, 2007.

“There is the assertion that if freight forwarders practitioners feel strongly persuaded by the demand for Customs to license individual practitioners, we should approach the National Assembly for a review of the Customs law.  We say unequivocally that this is not only wrong but shows a level of misunderstanding of the CEMA to complying with realities of trade dynamics with regards to trade facilitation and control of fraudulent practices.  For the avoidance of doubt, Legal Notice 95 of 1968 made pursuant to Section 156 of CEMA clearly state that the categories of those that the Nigeria Customs Board can Licence include:

1.)    Corporate Bodies
2.)    Firms
3.)    Individuals

“This Legal Notice was given pursuant to Section 156 of CEMA as earlier stated.  For reasons best known to the Board of Customs they have continued to licence only corporate bodies.  We state here that it is the Customs Board that may have over time breached the CEMA with impunity by deliberately resorting to licensing only Corporate bodies despite the provisions under reference.  This is a subtle way of shielding Customs officers who may be allegedly holding a reasonable number of the operating licences of the Customs.  They hide under the veil of incorporation by proxies and cronies whereas they are the bona fide owners and operators of these licenses which they operate most times in the areas they are serving.

“We want to observe the inherent danger to revenue due to Government and security implications therein.  Many people hide under the veil of incorporation to perpetuate revenue crimes and security breaches in the Trade Logistics Supply Chain in our country.  It is a general believe that the reason the Customs Board may be tenaciously holding on to licensing Corporate entities may be to shield most Customs officers who for all purposes and intents holds and operates Customs licenses of their own.

“Second, it is also alleged that Customs License is being used to witch hunt and suppress voices that may possibly rise against the maladministration and mismanagement of Customs laws.  Others who hide under this veil are foreigners who owe no allegiance or loyalty to our dear country.  This is not only against the local content Act, it is stifling the actualization of the Cabotage Act as well.  Moreover, the global practice is that the issuance of Customs licenses are restricted to the indigenes of a country.

“We have said it that for the maritime sector reforms to be meaningful, particularly in the area of Customs modernization we have to professionalize the key operators by educating and training them to imbibe the spirit of international best practices.  It is only an individual not a Corporate body that can learn and acquire skills to fall in line with this Act.  This thinking is what predicated the enactment of the CRFFN Act 16 of 2007 which is a most recent Act to CEMA with an intent to provide this much needed change.  It is axiomatic that when two legislations make provisions concerning one or similar issue(s), with one earlier in time and making specific provisions of the same concerning the self same subject in resolving any conflict between the two the later enactment takes precedence and becomes superior to the earlier one.

“The Customs and Excise Management Act (CEMA) as amended was enacted in 1958 and made specific provisions in Section 153 (2)(b) as to who can act on behalf of an importer or exporter for the purposes of providing services to them in the cargo supply management chain.  The same CEMA in Section 156(1) has created effectively a regulatory framework under the “CUSTOMS AND EXCISE AGENTS LICENSING REGULATIONS” otherwise tagged Regulation 95 of 1968.  The provisions of Section 156(1) of CEMA and the subsidiary legislation deriving from it constitute the legal framework that sustains the regulatory regime existing under the Customs and Excise Management Act which is exercised by the Nigeria Customs Service to control a segment of the logistics supply chain called Customs Licensed Clearing Agents.

“We know as of a fact that the word Customs Brokerage is unknown to any law in Nigeria.  Customs brokers as sub-elements of the freight forwarding business have their set standards that are backed by an enabling Act.

“This is the standard that those other parts of the world like Canada, USA, Australia etc must comply with before they can be called Customs brokers.  They must have undergone a course of training in Customs formalities and duly certificated by the relevant authority as provided for by an Act of parliament.

” Right now it is only the CRFFN by virtue of Section 1 of the CRFFN Act that has the backing of the law to determine the Standards of Skills and knowledge to be attained by an individual to be registered as a freight forwarder.

“We have taken the pains to explain in detail what a freight forwarder is so that all these unnecessary confusion and breaches can be well understood.  We are told by the ACG Zone A of the Customs Pastor Charles Edike that as from the end of April 2016 all DTIs which served as cafes for the capturing of relevant documents for import clearance from all our entry points will be shut down and in their place only those with Customs licenses will be issued PIN Numbers as passwords to perform clearance of goods from the Customs control.  It is instructive to let you know that Customs licences whose RC numbers used to be used for this functions is no longer being in use.  Rather the Tax Identification Numbers (TIN) are being used in ASYCUDA declarations.

“This move by the Customs Service posses a grave danger for the freight forwarders who would be made to be thrown into the already over saturated job market.  What this means in effect is that as freight forwarders they would no longer be able to carry out their functions in the ports as it relates to Customs formalities.  We will want to inform you that this announcement by the Customs authorities is already creating restiveness in the port as the young freight forwarders are apprehensive of the loss of their means of livelihood.  We do hope that it does not result to violence and withdrawal of service by the greater numbers who are well over Ten Thousand Practitioners rather than  a less than 1000 operational licences of the Customs.  There is also the danger of a massive distress in the life of port operations in view of the fact that Nigeria Customs Service is a very strategic Agency of the Government in our entry points.  The country is presently grappling with a lot of challenges in the maritime sector and we feel that to add this not well thought out policy might be a disaster in the making.

“If we are to go by using the mischief Rule of interpretation of Statutes we would be right to posit that, taken in its totality the coming into effect of the CRFFN Acts was to cure the mischief inherent in the CEMA especially with regards to its regulatory functions of the Licensed Customs Agents.  In the collective wisdom of the law makers they discovered that in order to professionalize the freight forwarding practice, it is only individuals who can acquire skills and knowledge that is required to be professional freight forwarders and not corporate bodies who do not have the capacities and capability to acquire the professional skills and knowledge needed which is not obtainable presently by the relevant provisions of CEMA”,  the NAGAFF concluded,  urging Kemi Adeosun to parley with her Transportation counterpart,  Rotimi Amaechi to get better understanding of its argument.

Archives

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

Published

on

…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. 

Continue Reading

Archives

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

Published

on

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

Continue Reading

Archives

Wind Farm Vessel Collision Leaves 15 Injured

Published

on

…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

Continue Reading

Editor’s Pick

Politics