Agents to pay op­er­at­ing fees be­fore clear­ing goods

The Punch - - TOURISM & TRAVEL LINE - Anna Okon

LL goods to be cleared at the ports are to at­tract manda­tory pay­ment of Prac­ti­tion­ers Op­er­at­ing Fee, ac­cord­ing to the Coun­cil for the reg­u­la­tion of Freight For­ward­ing in nige­ria. The CRFFN said the fee was ap­proved by the Min­is­ter of Fi­nance, Bud­get and Na­tional Plan­ning, Zainab Ahmed, in a let­ter dated Jan­uary 6 and signed by the Di­rec­tor, Home Fi­nance, Okokon udo.

un­der the regime, im­porters clear­ing a-20ft con­tainer will have to pay N1,000; 40ft con­tainer, N2,000; N3.50 per tonne of cargo and N1.50 per kilo of cargo com­ing by air.

It would be re­called that the CRFFN and lead­ers of Cus­toms agents and freight for­warders’ as­so­ci­a­tions had been on the ne­go­ti­at­ing ta­ble on how to im­ple­ment the POF.

Over the years, the is­sue had been on the shar­ing for­mula be­tween the CRFFN and as­so­ci­a­tions of prac­ti­tion­ers.

In 2017, the Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment stepped into the con­flict by di­rect­ing the as­so­ci­a­tion of nige­rian Li­censed Cus­toms agents to pay the fees to the CRFFN.

But anlca vowed not to com­ply with the di­rec­tive, claim­ing that pay­ment of the fee to the CRFFN would amount to ad­di­tional cost with neg­a­tive mul­ti­plier ef­fects on the econ­omy.

Kick­ing against the di­rec­tive, the anlca Pres­i­dent, Olayi­wola Shittu, said li­censed Cus­toms agents were al­ready pay­ing

N215,000 an­nual li­cence re­newal fee, N6,000 an­nual Nige­rian Ports Author­ity li­cence re­newal fee, N15,000 an­nual Cus­toms com­mand op­er­at­ing fee, N52,500 bank charges for Cus­toms bond, N70,000 CRFFN an­nual pay­ment, among oth­ers.

Ac­cord­ing to Shittu, daily pay­ment of the POF will be bur­den­some on a Cus­toms agency/com­pany which, when trans­ferred to im­porters/ex­porters, would ad­versely af­fect the econ­omy.

“We want to state cat­e­gor­i­cally that nowhere is such pay­ment as Prac­ti­tioner’s Op­er­at­ing Fee be­ing col­lected from a Cus­toms agent/bro­ker.

“Nige­ria be­ing a grow­ing econ­omy should not be sad­dled with the Prac­ti­tioner’s Op­er­at­ing Fee, which is the de­sign of some few in­di­vid­u­als to dis­tort the na­tional econ­omy for their self­ish in­ter­ests.”

Shittu had ap­pealed to the Min­is­ter of trans­porta­tion, Ro­timi Amaechi, to sus­pend the fee col­lec­tion to avoid prob­lem.

Also, ANLCA’S Na­tional Pub­lic­ity Sec­re­tary, Dr Kay­ode Far­into, said the mat­ter was be­fore the Fed­eral High Court in Ikoyi, La­gos.

ANCLA, he said, was chal­leng­ing the min­istry’s ini­tial di­rec­tive on the pay­ment of the fee, urg­ing amaechi to wait for the judg­ment be­fore in­tro­duc­ing a new fee.

How­ever, the as­so­ci­a­tions ap­pear to have lost the fight against im­ple­men­ta­tion of the POF.

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