CBN should review forex restriction on imports- Enwelu
.Volume of cargo clearance drops daily
.Says Nigeria needs national maritime policy
By Success Okezie
Comrade Emeka Emmanuel Enwelu is the Chairman, National Council of Managing Directors of Licenced Customs Agents, NCMDLCA, Apapa chapter, and Chief Executive Officer, McManuel Global Logistics Limited. In this interview, he spoke on various issues and the need for Nigeria as a maritime nation to have a well defined national maritime policy. He called on the Central Bank of Nigeria to review policies on foreign exchange restriction of some items, in order to fast track growth of the sector and the economy at large.
Maritime sector is capable of generating huge revenue, especially now that the economy is just recovering from recession. What measures will you advise government to put in place, in order to address the challenges in the industry?
Maritime is a large industry, which gives us advantage to be a maritime nation. So, what Nigeria needs at this moment is a well defined maritime policy. As a nation, we need maritime transport policy that will include road and rail transport. So, from that policy, our priorities and development plan would be to have the policy guidelines.
When you are trying to have a Master Plan for the ports, it is not done in isolation of rail, road and inland water transport. You should incorporate all other modes of transports into it. The transport plan must be that, all ports are not congested, less traffic, seemingly zero human traffic.
How are changes in government’s policies affecting your operations?
The volume of cargo clearance by agents at the ports has dropped drastically due to the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, foreign exchange restriction of some imported items. In this case, we are therefore urging the Apex Bank to review this policy.
It is imperative for the CBN to review this policy, in order to boost commercial activities in the ports, in terms of the volume of cargo clearance daily.
Similarly, we are calling on the Comptroller-General of Customs, CGC, Hameed Ali, to look at reviewing the 41 restricted items. CGC Ali should also address the challenges faced by clearing agents in receiving multiple alerts from Customs valuation and classification units.
We are advising Customs to address the issues of documentation at the point of loading before arrival of any consignment for immediate clearance of cargo.
We are blaming influx of fake and substandard goods into the country on Federal Government’s unstable policies, as well as compromise on the part of government officials and agencies at the ports.
The unstable policies of government also make the officials of these agencies and trading public to be confused.
However, we are also calling on Standards Organisation of Nigeria, SON and NAFDAC to build capacity by scrutinising the standard of goods and documents properly at the point of loading, in order to avoid unwarranted alert and safeguard the health of the people.
What is your assessment of PAAR?
Historically, the Pre-Arrival Assessment Report, PAAR, Scheme was introduced by Nigeria Customs Service, NCS, in December 2013, as a single window platform to fast track trade in the global village and ease tension experienced by Shippers and manufacturers engaging in import and export business. Equally, the scheme is meant to reduce delay at seaports and border entry points.
Above all, PAAR can only succeed when trading communities alongside other government agencies involved in cargo clearance in the ports and border comply fully with the policies.
At the pilot stage, PAAR attracted negative criticism from stakeholders in the maritime industry especially importers, agents and freight forwarders. Today, what we experience is that all disputes arising from valuation and classification are not properly handled.
In the contrary, PAAR is queried without Customs Intelligence Unit, CIU, investigation reports after physical examinations. Any input of alert would attract delay and demurrage, which consequently would make cargo handling in Apapa port very and expensive.
Why is Apapa losing containers on transire to Bonded terminals?
Apapa is losing containers on transire to Bonded Terminal as a result of high cost of handling containers in Apapa port. We are calling on the Customs Area Controller, CAC, of Apapa Customs Command, who is highly experienced, hard working, transparent and Customs agents friendly to advise his sub-ordinates to have cordial relationship and better understanding with Licensed Customs agents in Cargo Clearance processes.
What changes have you been able to make since you assumed office as the Apapa Chapter Chairman of NCMDLCA?
What we have done since inception is an eye opener to every practitioner in the freight forwarding sub-sector. The present executive of NCMDLCA, Apapa Chapter has succeeded in establishing a good working relationship with all major stakeholders and security agencies in the maritime sector.
The name of the association has been taken to an enviable level. We have gotten recognition from sister associations because of our forward looking activities, especially our policy of educating our members and exposing them to the global trend of freight forwarding practice.
Therefore, training and retraining of our members is the key to moving the vision and mission of NCMDLCA to greater height. The Apapa Chapter of NCMDLCA has invested a lot in capacity building.
Physical examination or scanning of containers, which would you prefer?
I prefer scanning because if there is any suspicious item, you could be referred to physical examination unit.