By Gboyega Oni
The present state of the Nigerian economy will be further harmed if the federal government should go ahead with the collection of the Practitioners’ Operating Fees (POF) by August 1 on all categories of containers and cargo leaving the nation’s ports.
In a letter to the Minister of Transportation on the commnecement of the fees, Prince Olayiwola Shittu, National President of the Association of Nigeria Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA), said licensed customs agents presently are overbunden with a lot of fees, adding POF would amount to additional cost of doing business in Nigeria with adverse multiplier effects on the nation’s economy.
Shittu said licensed customs agents who are being asked to pay POF equally pay the following fees annually: License Renewal – N215,000.00; Nigeria Ports Authority License Renewal – N6,000.00; Customs Command Operating Fees – N15,000.00/Customs Command; Bank Changes for Customs Bond – N52,500.00 and CRFFN Annual Payment – N70,000.00/Staff Member before they can operate in any of the nation’s ports.
He said adding all these together with the daily payment of POF on all cargo would be financially burdensome on an average customs agency which when transferred to the importers/exporters will eventually bear heavily on the Nigerian economy negatively.
According to him, no where in the world such payment as Practitioner’s Operating Fees is being collected from a customs agency/broker and Nigeria being a growing economy should not be saddled with the burden of POF.
He said POF is a design of some few individuals to distort the national economy for their selfish interests.
The ANLCA President said it is only the Governing Board of Council for the Regulation of Freight Fforwarding in Nigeria (CRFFN) that can determine the fate of the POF and resolve some other issues.
He said that without the board in place, anything done is an aberation, appealling to the minister in interest of the Nigeria generally to suspend the collection of the POF indefinitely.
Shittu has this to say: “Adding daily payment of Practitioners’ Operating Fees would be financially burdensome on an average customs agency/company which when transferred to the importers/exporters, will eventually bear heavily on the Nigerian economy negatively.
“We want to state categorically that nowhere in the world is such payment as Practitioner’s Operating Fees being collected from a Customs Agency/Broker. We stand to be corrected, Nigeria being a growing economy should not be saddled with the burden or this Practitioner’s Operating Fees which is a design of some few individuals to distort the national economy for their selfish interests.
“Also, we believe election into the Governing Board of CRFFN should be held and the Governing Board inaugurated to determine the fate of the Practitioner’s Operating Fees and resolve some other issues, and not the other way round. And, despite the absence of a governing board for several years, CRFFN has been receiving budgetary allocations yearly, through the Federal Ministry of Transport/Transportation, without recourse to accountability.
“We therefore, appeal to you in the interest of the Nigerian economy generally, to suspend the collection of the practitioner’s Operating Fees indefinitely to avoid the negative effects that the collection would attract to Nigeria, as a nation.”