FG triples Shippers’ Council’s revenue

FG triples Shippers’ Council’s revenue

  • Port regulator to get up to N14.6 billion this year

President Goodluck Jonathan has granted approval increasing the revenue of the Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC) from one out of the seven per cent port development levy to three.

With the new approval granted by the President via a memo addressed to the Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister of the Economy, Mrs. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and copied the Minister of Transport, Senator Idris Umar penultimate week, about 43 per cent of the port development levy will henceforth accrue to the Nigerian Shippers’ Council. This is coming on the heels of the recent conversion of the Nigerian Shippers’ Council from the body protecting the interest of Nigerian shippers (importers and exporters) to the economic regulator of the ports by the Federal Government.

The seven per cent levy is a freight surcharge collected on all goods imported through the seaports. It is officially collected by Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), remitted into the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and usually redirected by approval of the Minister of Finance to the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) for rehabilitation and development of common user facilities at the port.

Last year, N30.5 billion was collected as port development levy, according to figures released by Comptroller-General of Nigeria Customs Service, Dikko Abdullahi.

With a projected ten per cent growth in import volume this year; up to N34 billion is expected to be collected as port development levy out of which N14.6 billion will be remitted to the NSC. This is more than three times the N4.3 billion the Council received last year.

“There is even a take-off grant which the President is expected to approve for us in addition to the increase in our revenue. Government is interested in ensuring that we are not financially handicapped in regulating the port,” a senior staff of the NSC told SHIPS & PORTS DAILY.

Meanwhile Executive Secretary/CEO of NSC, Barr. Hassan Bello, has assured the port community that the Council would be fair and maintain a reasonable level of independence in the discharge of its duties as port economic regulator.

Bello gave the assurance on Wednesday when he visited members of the Seaport Terminal Operators Association of Nigeria (STOAN) to seek their support and cooperation.

“We will synergize with you (terminal operators) with a view to creating a balance and enabling environment for the interest of the various stakeholders in the maritime sector.

“This assignment is a re-affirmation of what we have been doing trying to see that there is balance in the industry. We have always been an umpire trying to see that the needed balance necessary for efficiency is maintained. We are going to work with you and for you. We see the ways things are done elsewhere to ensure that international standards are maintained in Nigeria,” he told the port concessionaires.

He said the Council may not be able to fulfill its new mandate without the cooperation of the terminal operators.

 

“We need your partnership, your understanding. We need you to trust us to see that we are going to move this industry forward for your benefit and for the benefit of those who consume your services,” he said, assuring that the NSC would not take sides with any of the interested parties including importers, exporters and agents.

Neutrality, objectivity and fairness would be the watchword of the Council, going forward, he said.

“To make things work, we will do joint project that we will conceive together with you. We have so many issues in the port with the shippers but we are going to streamline these things to make it transparent. Things we do will be scientific also. We cannot be sentimental about this important industry,” Bello stated.

Chairman of STOAN, Princess (Dr) Vicky Hastrup, who said she had initial misgivings about NSC regulating the port because it had been known to side with cargo owners and their agents, said her members would do all they can to ensure that Nigerian ports remain competitive. She assured Bello of STOAN’s support in its new responsibility.

“The appointment of a regulatory body is there in the concession agreement. It is just that in Nigeria, things take time to happen because of a lot of bureaucracies. Up to this moment, the Ports & Harbours bill is yet to be passed. If that has been passed the regulatory body would have been constituted,” she said.

Hastrup charged the new port economic regulator to build the confidence of stakeholders to earn their support. She said it was important that NSC maintains neutrality at all times.

“He has given us assurance that he is going to be unbiased towards everyone because the initial core duty of the NSC is to moderate shipping trade in Nigeria but now that they have an added responsibility, we are going to corporate with them. With the NSC as the regulatory body, everybody will do what they ought to do,” she said.

Other terminal operators charged NSC to be fearless and be ready to regulate even government agencies in the maritime industry if it aims to succeed in its new role.