By Roland Ekama
Determined to addressing the frequently hike in cargo clearance from the nation’s seaports, the Save Nigeria Freight Forwarders Importers and Exporters Coalition (SNFFIEC) has called on leaders of all associations in the logistics supply chain to kick against the recently increased customs duty on imports by the federal government
The group expressed dissatisfaction over the incessant hike in customs’ duty on cargo clearance lamenting that the situation has reached a stage whereby all the freight forwarding practitioners should come together and withdraw their services due to the harsh trade policies of the Bola Tinubu led administration.
National Coordinator of the Coalition,Chief Osita Chukwu Patrick while speaking in Lagos on Wednesday, called on the national presidents of the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA), National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF), Association of Registered Freight Forwarders (AREFFN) National Council of Managing Directors of Licensed Customs Agents (NCMDLCA), National Association of Freight Forwarders and Consolidators (NAFFAC), International Freight Forwarders Association (IFFA), and other notable groups to wake up from their slumbers and condemn the harsh policies associated with international trade.
The freight forwarder urged practitioners to stand up and fight for the country’s survival by ensuring that the hike in duty rate is mitigated.
Osita described leaders of the freight forwarding associations as “sleeping”, saying that its a confirmation of negligence on the part of the stakeholders.
He affirmed that the situation of incessant hike has reached the climax that demands urgent attention, intervention and government engagement constructively
Osita lamented that the situation has led to drop in cargo throughput, even as he expressed frustration over the silence on the part of freight forwarding associations despite the hardship.
He also stated that plans are afoot to convene a meeting of all the associations to brainstorm and withdraw their services from port operations.
The National Coordinator fumed , saying “I expect the association leaders to engage government from inception of the customs incessant duty hike.
“We need to engage government. We need to wage a big fight with the government. We need government to revert to status quo and stop the madness of using dollar to equate Naira for cargo clearance because its not done anywhere in the world over.
“We have our currency, so why use dollar to determine customs duty .
According to him, government has increased duty rate thrice in less than three months urging the maritime industry stakeholders to withdraw their services.
Osita reiterated that”Otherwise the government will consider it as business as usual by continuous increase in duty rate on imported cargoes into Nigeria”.
He further pointed out that most of the freight agents are no longer in the business of freight forwarding and customs brokerage noting that the frustration has reached a level whereby the practitioners have abandoned the business of cargo clearance.
“We cannot continue like this because the issue is getting out of hand and we need standardization of the duty rates with local currency and not dollar.”,he lamented .
Recall that the Nigeria Customs Service NCS and Central Bank of Nigeria CBN have stylishly raised the import duty on all goods by about 48.5% this year by jerking up the dollar assessment rate of imported items from N951.842 per dollar as at December 2023 to N1,413.62.
This means Nigerians will pay more to clear their goods at the port as import duty is benchmarked against the dollar.