The umbrella body of licensed customs agents in the country, the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) has kicked against moves by the Federal Government to begin the collection of practitioners fees (POF).
ANLCA which remains the only association in the clearing business which has its national secretariat completely built on its permanent also raided dust on the timetable for the 2017 election of freight forwarders into the Governing Board of the Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarding in Nigeria (CRFFN).
The collection of the POF has been a long a long drawn battle between the Federal Government and stakeholders in the maritime industry, especially freight forwarders.
Similarly, election into the Governing Board of CRFFN has been put on hold for years following the inability of the council to organise election since the expiration of the tenure of the Alhaji Hakeem Olanrewaju led Governing Board more than three years ago.
In an open letter address to the Minister of Transportation, Right Hon. Rotimi Amaechi and signed by its National President, Prince Olayiwola Shittu, ANLCA stated that the collection of POF was not only arbitrary but amount to additional cost of doing business in the country which the President Mohammadu Buhariâ€™s administration has been labouring to address since the beginning of this year.
â€œAs the name suggested, the fees would amount to additional cost of doing business in Nigeria with adverse multiplier effects on the nation economyâ€, it said in the letter dated July 15, 2017 and obtained by THISDAY.
According to the letter, as of now, licensed customs agency being asked for payment of the POF has so many payments to make. These include annual license renewal N215, 000; annual Nigeria Ports Authority (NPA) license renewal N6, 000; and annual customs command operating fees N15, 000 per customs command.
Others are bank charges for customs bond, N52, 500; and CRFFN annual payment, N70, 000.00 per staff member
ANLCA argued that adding daily payment of POF would be financially burdensome on an average licensed customs agent or company which when transferred to the importers/exporters will eventually weigh heavily and negatively on the Nigerian economy.
â€œEqually, we want to state categorically that nowhere in the world is such payment as Practitionerâ€™s Operating Fees is being collected from a Customs agency/broker. We stand to be corrected, Nigeria being a growing economy should not be saddled with the burden of this Practitionerâ€™s Operating Fees which is a design of some few individuals to distort the national economy for their selfish interestsâ€, it said.
The association also said it believe election into the Governing Board of CRFFN should be held and the Governing Board inaugurated to determine the fate of the POF and resolve some other issues rather than the other way round.
It also questioned the transparency, openness and accountability of the CRFFN, pointing out that despite the absence of a governing board for several years, CRFFN has been receiving budgetary allocations yearly, through the Federal Ministry of Transportation without giving any account of its expenditures over the years.
ANLCA said in order to avoid its negative effects and in the interest of the Nigerian economy, Amaechi should suspend the collection of the POF.