CBN approves clearance of over 200 trapped containers

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has granted provisional approval for the clearance of over 200 units containers comprising both 40-foot and 20-foot containers trapped at the various terminals in the nation’s seaports.

SHIPS & PORTS DAILY had reported last week that as part of effort to clear the backlog of consignments which were affected by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) forex restriction on 41 items, the customs management has asked importers who had imported their goods before the CBN policy to forward their names to the headquarters through their area commands.

The intervention by Customs it was gathered was to allow CBN approved the Form ‘M’ of the affected importers to that they can be issue with PAAR and subsequently take delivery of their goods.

The apex bank’s directive was sequel to a letter by the Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun dated March 18, 2016 and addressed to the Governor of the CBN, Godwin Emefiele, requesting for an approval by the apex bank to allow importers of the affected consignments, which had been shipped before the commencement of the restriction, which she said had already been approved by President Muhammandu Buhari.

Meanwhile in a letter dated April 7, 2016, signed personally by its governor and addressed to the Minister of Finance, in which Chief of Staff to the President was copied, the apex bank conveyed its approval for the clearance of the affected consignments.

Part of the conditions for the clearance of the trapped containers include that their importers would do the necessary documentations, which would also involve the payment of import duty and other sundry fees and levies.

The CBN had however raised concerns over the inability of some of the importers of the containers to fill their Form M, which many believed made the entire transactions to look suspicious.

The approval letter reads in part: “I acknowledge the receipt of your letter dated March 18, 2016 on the above subject matter and write to request that the relevant documents in respect of goods that were shipped prior to the commencement of the policy be forwarded to the Central Bank of Nigeria for consideration and approval.

“However, please note that under normal circumstances, the importers are supposed to have established the Form M before items of import depart the port of origin. It is therefore curious that Form M approval is being sought after shipment.

“The CBN is however willing to grant this waiver to enable the Nigeria Customs Service clear the goods held at the seaports”, the letter said.

The minister had in the letter to the apex bank requesting for approval made reference to an earlier meeting between her, the President and Comptroller General of the Nigeria Customs Service, Col. Hameed Ali, in which the trio discussed the matter of the over 200 containers trapped at the ports, which were shipped prior to the announcement of the ban of the affected goods.

The Minister’s letter read in part: “Mr. President has directed that necessary documentation to enable clearance of these goods should be granted by the CBN. This decision was premised on the fundamental concept of fairness as the owners of the shipments were inadvertently affected by the change of policy.”

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