FG stops CRFFN from collecting operating fees

The Federal Government has ordered the Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarding in Nigeria (CRFFN) to stop the collection of the practitioners operating fees it introduced recently. National Publicity Secretary, Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA), Dr. Kayode Farinto disclosed this to newsmen in Lagos on Friday.

Farinto said the directive came through a letter from the office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Senator Anyim Pius Anyim, addressed to the Deputy President of the National Council of Managing Directors of Licensed Customs Agents (NCMDLCA), Uchu Block.

To buttress his assertion, a copy of the letter signed by Director, Economic Monitoring, Multilateral and Research, Elaigwu Ejembi on behalf of the SGF was made available to SHIPS & PORTS DAILY by Farinto.

The letter with reference number CD/P/251/V/892 dated 29th April, 2015 and entitled RE: THE DISSOLVED BOARD OF COUNCIL FOR THE REGULATION OF FREIGHT FORWARDERS IN NIGERIA reads inter alia: “I am directed to acknowledge receipt of your letters dated 11th February 2015 and subsequent reminder dated 17th March, 2015 respectively, on the above subject.

“I am to re-emphasis the need for strict compliance with the provision of the Act on Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarders in Nigeria, Act 16 of 2007. For the avoidance of doubt, in the absence of a statutorily constituted BOARD of Council, to which the power to excise function under the act is conferred, no staff of the Council has the power to exercise any function pending re-election of the Governing Board.

“Any violation of the provision of the act will be treated with appropriate reprimand.”

Farinto maintained that ANLCA remained opposed to the collection of the contentious professional operating fees, which was approved by the outgoing Minister of Transport, Senator Idris Umar, vide a letter dated 26th February 2015.

Umar had approved the collection N1.20 per kilogram of air freight, N1,000 per 20-foot container, N2,000 per 40-foot container, N500 per car/jeep, N1,000 per 1×20′ truck, N2,000 per 1×40′ truck, N3.50 per ton of general cargo, N1.00 per ton of dry bulk cargo while the rate on wet cargo was indicated as ‘negotiable’.

The collection was expected to net at least N2billion per annum which Umar directed should be shared between CRFFN and the associations in the ration of 60% and 35% respectively while the remaining 5% will be shared to registered freight forwarders.

“To this end, while CRFFN is to collect 60% of the Practitioners’ Operating Fees as Internally Generated Revenue (IGR), the Associations will collect 35% as provided by the CRFFN Act (Accreditation of Association of Freight Forwarders) Regulations 2010.

“Registered Freight Forwarders/Customs Licensed Agents (RFA/CLA) are entitled to 5% of the Professional Operating Fees which will be collected by the CRFFN and remitted to the concerned RFA/CLA,” the Minister’s approval signed on his behalf by the Director Legal Services of the Federal Ministry of Transport, I. J. Uche-Okoro (Mrs.) stated.

While ANLCA had supported the collection initially, it is believed that it decided to back out because of disagreement over the sharing of the 35% accruing to the freight forwarding associations.

The five CRFFN-registered freight forwarding associations are ANLCA, National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF), National Council of Managing Directors of Licensed Customs Agents (NCMDLCA), Association of Registered Freight Forwarders (AREFF) and the National Association of Air Freight Forwarders and Consolidators (NAFFAC).

While ANLCA believes it deserves to get the lion share of the 35% because it is the largest association and because it believes most of the monies will be coming from its members, the other associations are pushing for equal stakes.

“We are all associations. No one is bigger than the other,” President of one of the other associations told SHIPS & PORTS DAILY.

As a result of the disagreement, ANLCA recently directed its members not to pay the fee to CRFFN.

Attempts by CRFFN to collect the fee at Seme border on Tuesday last week turned bloody as ANLCA members stoutly resisted.

“By the virtue of the Act setting up CRFFN, it made us know that they can only collect money when there is a Governing Council in place but for now, there is no Governing Council but a Registrar.

“By the definition of the Corporate Allied Matters Act, a Registrar’s responsibility is to be in charge of the register of an institution or a company.

“It is not possible for a Registrar to be the CEO and still want to play the role of the Governing Council. We are saying this is not the procedure.

“If there should be any collection, the Governing Council must be in place.

“Jukwe (the Registrar) is a staff of CRFFN meaning we are paying his salary. He cannot take the responsibility of the Governing Council. It is not possible,” he said.

A similar disagreement broke out about three years ago over the collection of what was then known as ‘transaction fees’ leading to its eventual suspension by the Transport Minister.

Efforts to reach the CRFFN Registrar, Sir Mike Jukwe for his comments on the development were futile as he failed to take calls placed to his mobile phone. He also did not respond to text message sent to him.

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