Imported Goods: FG Urged to Comply with Demurrage Waiver Requirement

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Eromosele Abiodun

The federal government has been urged to comply with the statutory requirement for waiver of rent and demurrage as a result of delay on imported goods that are subject to dispute resolution (DR) and investigative activities in consonance with the ease of doing business.

The appeal was made in a petition to President Muhammadu Buhari, titled: ‘The Need to Comply with Statutory Waiver on Rent/Demurrage Associated with Delay for Goods Subject to Investigation/Dispute Resolution Procedures in line with Section 152 of the Customs and Excise Management Act C 45 of 2004,” by customs agents in the country.

The umbrella body of customs agents in the country, the National Council of Managing Directors of Licensed Customs Agents (NCMDLCA), in the petition, stated: “We wish to draw the attention of the federal government on the need to comply with the statutory requirement for waiver of rent and demurrage as a result of delay on imported goods that are subject to DR and investigative activities in consonance with the ease of doing Business.”

The National President of NCMDLCA, Mr. Lucky Amiwero said the legal and global process on goods subjected to DR mechanism and investigative process are granting of relief or waiver by removing the cost of associated delays
“We hereby appeal to the government to implement the provision of section 152 by the waiver of rent and demurrage associated with delays in dispute resolution and the investigating activities of the Customs and any government agency, involved in the inspection of imported goods so as to reduce the abandonment of goods by importer after the completion of dispute resolution and investigative activities,” he said.

He added: “The statutory provision covers goods associated with delay that is undergoing DR as to valuation, classification, rule of origin, intellectual property right etc., and Investigation activities.

“The Section 152 states, ‘when any goods are deposited in a customs areas (Terminals) or in a government warehouse under or by virtue of any provision of this Act and the Board is of the opinion that having regards to all the circumstances of the case no rent or reduced rent shall be charged therefore, it may waive or reduce any rent payable or refund the whole or any part of any rent paid under this Act.”

On the control of uncleared goods under section 31 of the customs and excise management act by the Nigeria Customs Service, he stated that the provision under section 31-(1)&(2) authorise the terminal and warehouse operators to transfer all goods to government warehouse after the completion of discharge of period specified as approved by the board, “who take control and authorised to charge rents on unclear goods, in line with section 20-(1)(b) and 97-(1)&(2) of the Customs and excise Management Act.”

Furthermore, he said: “As contained in section 31 & 97 of the Customs and Excise Management Act, the Nigeria Customs Service is authorised to Control goods deposited in the Terminals and Warehouse after the approved period of discharge as specified in the provision of the Act.

“Nigeria Customs Service has the authority on the transferred goods, after the specified period as approved by the board to waive rent/ demurrage under Section 152 , as prescribed by section 20,31 and 97 of the Customs and Excise Management Act 45 of 2004.”

The customs agents had last week decried the move by the Federal Ministry of Transportation in respect of the collection of Practitioners Operating Fees (POF) at the nation’s seaports, airports and border stations.
They stated that the collection is in contravention of the statues that established the Council of Regulation of Freight Forwarding, the High Court ruling, and the letter from the Secretary to the Government of the Federation on the dissolved Council since November 2012.