ANLCA calls for immediate suspension of public hearing on CRFFN Act
*Says there are contending issues surrounding CRFFN Act
By Udeme Clement :
The Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents, ANLCA, a critical stakeholder in the Maritime Industry, has called for immediate suspension of the public hearing on Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarding in Nigeria, CRFFN, Act Amendment Bill, slated for tomorrow Tuesday May 12, 2020.
ANLCA in a letter signed by its Publicity Secretary, Joe Sanni, stressed that the suspension becomes necessary following ban on inter-state travel by the Federal Government to tackle the deadly coronavirus.
ANLCA appealed to House of Representatives Committee on Port & Harbours, to suspend the planned public hearing tomorrow, in order to get a suitable time where all relevant stakeholders can get to Abuja and make their inputs.
The letter dated May 8, 2020, titled; “Re: Public Hearing on CRFFN Act Amendment bill (NASS/9HR/CT.086/CRFFN/023); stated, “Why is the public hearing on such important and expectedly all-inclusive amendment slated for this period of COVID-19, which has almost incapacitated everyone, including the stakeholders, from attending?
The letter added, “Is this move well intended at this precarious time, with all contending issues surrounding the CRFFN Act No 16 of 2007?
“Are the stakeholders not being unnecessarily hood-winked with this hasty rush, to achieve what ‘they’ have been unable to achieve by force, that is the POF ? while those superintending over the affairs of CRFFN conveniently ignored Sections 4 & 6 of the extant Act 16 of 2007, without implementing these sections since inception?
“The CRFFN Act Amendment Bill, sponsored by Hon. Patrick Asadu on the 18th of July 2019, is not even made public yet and stakeholders do not know what Amendments are being proposed.
“From the body language of some of the pushers of the Amendment, it is all for pecuniary reasons and not to advance the course of the industry.”
The letter stated further,
“Are lawmakers aware that one of the association’s-members of CRFFN is currently embroiled in crisis of multi-dimensional, constitutional proportions with several cases in court?
Are they aware of the multiple court cases instituted against itself, CRFFN and their implications on what the lawmakers intend to do by Amending Act 16 of 2007?
“The lawmakers should be informed that there are misconceptions surrounding the Customs brokers and freight forwarders differences in CRFFN. While freight forwarding is defined as transporters/freighters of goods through various modes, Customs brokers are defined as licensed corporate that transacts/interfaces with Customs within Customs environment on behalf of importers/exporters”.
It pointed out, “Presently, Nigeria Customs Service does not give licenses/permits to freight forwarders, but licenses are only given to corporate Customs brokerage agencies. Therefore, Customs brokers cannot and should not, be regulated by two Federal Ministries of Finance and Transportation, as the CRFFN Act seems to do now.
“It is speculated that ‘they’ are in a haste to rush the Bill through at this time, to finance their re -election in few months’ time, because resistance may be feeble now, due to the COVID-19 prevention protocols.
“These and many more are expected to be presented before the lawmakers at the public hearing.
“Unfortunately, the airspaces, inter-state borders and movements within Nigeria have been restricted. So, how do stakeholders come to Abuja, to make presentations?
“We are of the opinion that to make the public hearing all-embracing, it will be advisable to put the hearing on hold, till an auspicious time when all stakeholders can travel to Abuja, to make their inputs for an acceptable Amended CRFFN Bill. Anything short of this, smacks of fraudulence with an intention to rail-road everyone into something that is bound to backfire in no-too-distant future”.
The letter emphasised, “We, as Customs brokers, passionately appeal to the House Committee on Ports and Harbours to suspend this move, in order to create a proper time for emergence of acceptable maritime industry legislation. We plead that you do not conspire to shave our heads in our absence.
We are concerned about the growth and development of Nigeria’s maritime industry”.