The Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), has expressed concern over the deplorable state of access roads to all the ports in Nigeria.
However, given the strategic importance of the Lagos ports in the Nigerian economy, the chamber has called for an urgent response by the government to fix the access roads to the Lagos ports.
The LCCI stated this in a communiquÃ© issued at the end of its council meeting in Lagos recently.
Lagos ports account for about 70 per cent of the total revenue generation from import duties in the country.
â€œThe pace of cargo evacuation is being affected by the state of the roads. This in turn results in high demurrage charges, high rental costs by the terminal operators and high cost of freight,â€ the LCCI added.
But the council commended various policy measures put in place to improve the business environment. The meeting noted and applauded the Executive Orders and the acts on the movable collateral and credit registry. It noted that the initiatives would create the right environment for business and boost investorsâ€™ confidence.
The LCCI council also applauded the National Assembly on the efforts at providing enabling legislations to boost the inflows of private sector capital to complement the capital budget spending of the government especially on infrastructure.
â€œCouncil noted the recent Business Environment forum between the National Assembly and the private sector on legislations that would boost private investment in the economy.
â€œCouncil commended the progress made in the fight against terror. Many internally displaced persons are now returning to their communities,â€ it added.
Council however expressed concern over the escalating security problems perpetrated by the herdsmen across the country. It urged the security agencies to step up their vigilance and live up to their mandate of protecting lives and property across the country.
The meeting noted that activities of the herdsmen are already taking a toll on agricultural activities in the country.
Furthermore, the council expressed concern over the increasing liquidity challenges in the financial system.
â€œSome companies are not able to draw from facilities to fund their forex requirements. This is taking a toll on the business of these companies as some of them cannot provide the cash backing for forex demands.
â€œThe liquidity problem is a consequence of the mopping of liquidity in the financial system, the tight monetary policy stance and the increasing crowding-out effect of the private sector by government borrowing in the financial system. Council stressed the need for financial system liquidity to be relaxed.
The Council expressed concern over the indiscriminate and arbitrary queries raised by officials of the Nigeria Customs Service on the value of imports.
The meeting noted the frequent disregard of the Pre-Arrival Assessment Report (PAAR) issued by the Customs Headquarter often arbitrary valuation are imposed on importers leading to much higher import payment.
Therefore, Council suggested that the PAAR issued by the Customs headquarters should be respected by Customs officers at the ports as far as evaluation was concerned.
â€œThe use of discretionary valuation by Customs officers at the port is not consistent with the vision of this administration to improve the ease of doing business.
â€œCouncil expressed concern over the presence of officers of the Nigeria Customs Service on the highways stopping containers and raising fresh valuation issues.
â€œThis has caused profound frustration to many business owners. The meeting also expressed concern over the practice of the Nigeria Customs officers on the highways, demanding Customs papers from vehicle owners. Council request that this is not in line with best practices.
â€œThis practice by the Custom officers that resulted in numerous harassment of citizens on the highway and there is need to put an end to it,â€ the LCCI added.