NIMASA, CUSTOMS to close loopholes in temporary import permit
* Seeks a common platform to handle issues of TIP
By Udeme Clement :
The Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) and Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) have agreed to join forces to close loopholes in Temporary Importation Permit (TIP) system, which importers often exploit to avoid levies due to government.
Director-General of NIMASA, Dr. Bashir Jamoh, stated this in Abuja when he visited the Comptroller-General of Customs, Col. Hameed Ali (rtd).
Jamoh said the temporary import permit issue is one of the biggest challenges faced by maritime sector, stressed that it has denied the Federal Government huge revenue.
Jamoh informed, “What we observe is that people capitalise on the good gesture of government policies. Those benefiting from this temporary importation bring in their own ship and after one year, they will take it back to their country and import back with a different name.
“They do it constantly and this is to the disadvantage of our Nigerian ship-owners.”
He said Cabotage trade, which falls within the core functions of NIMASA, is suffering as a result of the abuse of temporary import permit, and, “At the end of the day, it is indigenous shipowners who bear the brunt.”
The Director-General said Merchant Shipping Act provided that vessels used in importation should be registered with Nigeria Ship Registry, but in most cases, the importers did not.
He calls for greater synergy between NIMASA and NCS, and indeed, all agencies in the maritime sector, to address pertinent issues and improve the sector.
Jamoh said it is in pursuit of such cooperation that a regular meeting of heads of maritime agencies was recently initiated. The meeting debuted on July 7 in Lagos at the Nigerian Shippers Council (NSC). It had in attendance Executive Secretary of NSC, Mr. Hassan Bello; Managing Director of Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Hadiza Bala Usman; Managing Director, National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA), Dr. George Moghalu; and Rector, Maritime Academy of Nigeria, Oron, Commodore Emmanuel Effedua (rtd).
Jamoh said the essence of the meeting is to identify and speedily tackle challenges faced by operators in the sector without impediments of official bureaucracy. He invited the NCS Comptroller-General to join the heads of maritime agencies meeting.
“After the meeting, we decided to incorporate the Freight Forwarders’ Regulators to be on board,” Jamoh stated, adding, “The MD NPA and I have agreed to extend the fellowship to you, and you have the liberty to join us via zoom.”
Jamoh appreciated the efforts of NCS under Ali to curb smuggling in the country and enhance revenue generation.
In his remarks, CGC Ali Hameed, said, “It is imperative for Customs and NIMASA to develop a common platform for dealing with problems arising from TIP.
The Customs Boss pledged the commitment of the Service to pooling resources with NIMASA, in order to address the TIP issue and other problems in the sector. He said there is need for both agencies to design a common framework for tackling the issues.
CGC Ali said such approach will ensure that if Customs registers a ship and gives it a TIP, NIMASA will also record the registration on its own platform.
According to CGC Ali, “We should have more identity of the ship beyond the name, as name can be erased and another name used. We must now collectively get some identity of the ship that goes beyond name, which should be registered on our records and yours, so that if there is recycling of the ship, using that platform, we should be able to identify the ship and be able to apply the law as it is.
“We should create the synergy based on ICT. I request that your IT staff synergise with ours to develop a platform that will create that collaboration, such that everything we record or register will reflect on your own record.”
The CGC said that Customs is in the process of launching two patrol boats that will go beyond the creeks, to enhance maritime security.
“We have mounted necessary machine guns, one had an accident but it has been repaired, and very soon, we will launch them into operations. We will keep you posted as we intend to synergise with you to ensure safety of our waterways,” Ali added.
His words, “It is my hope that we will strengthen the relationship and increase the synergy between us as maritime operators. Most importantly, to ensure that not only the revenue aspect of it is improved but also to secure our waters.
“The security of our people is more important than the revenue, because no matter how much you collect, if our people are not settled, or not in peace, then the whole essence of the revenue is bastardised.
“So, it is our hope that we join hands with you and make sure that we work assiduously to ensure that our waterways are safe and profitable.”
CGC Ali commended NIMASA Director-General for the CEOs’ forum initiative, said it will help to boost the sector.