House Committee directs NPA, NIMASA to clarify FX charges

The House of Representatives

The House of Representatives Adhoc Committee on Review of Pump Price of Petrol on Friday directed the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) and the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) to clarify their charges in foreign currency.

The Chairman of the Committee, Raphael Igbokwe, gave the directive during the committee’s visit to NPA and NIMASA headquarters in Lagos.

Igbokwe said representatives of both organisations should be present at the Executive briefing in Abuja for clarification.

He said that operators of wet cargo had complained that inability to access dollars led to deals with had multiple effects on petroleum products.

According to him, there is need to justify why NPA and NIMASA charged most of their levies in dollars.

The NPA charges are Lease and Vessel Fees; payment for Cargo and Shipping Dues; payment for Provisional Bill and Concession Fees; and payment for Pilotage and Royalties.

NIMASA charges three per cent freight benchmark.

Igbokwe said that among the challenges faced by the shipping companies was that Nigerian waters were not deep enough to accommodate bigger vessels which had room outside the country

He said that inability of NPA to create room for mother vessels to berth petroleum products had lead to midstream discharge, illegal bunkering and malpractices which gave room for some operators to be short-changing the government.

“There was the need for NIMASA to improve the security of Nigerian waterways to enable more vessels and bigger ones to berth at the port,’’ Igbokwe said.

He said if bigger vessels containing petroleum products berth at the ports, this would stop operators of ship-to-ship discharge not discharging accurate quantity to the supplier or marketers in the supply chain.

“We are looking at NIMASA and NPA to reconcile some charges they made in dollars to stop the increase in the price of dollars as well as offshore discharge.

“From our findings, petroleum products operators disclosed that 80 percent of vessels bringing petrol engaged in offshore discharge before bringing the products it into our water with smaller vessels.

“The operators also said that the processing had created double charges for them which had cost effect on the consumers.

“The mandate bestowed on the committee is for us to brief Nigerians time to time on how their resources are being managed,” Igbokwe said.

The Managing Director of NPA, Ms Hadiza Usman, said that the authority was working hard to tackle finance and technical charges affecting the operations of petroleum products.

The Executive Director, Marine and Operations of NPA, Dr Davis Sekonte, said there was a directive by the Federal Government through the Minister of Transportation to grant 50 per cent rebate since 2009.

Sekonte said that the rebate was revived in 2016 when the Federal Government removed subsidy from petroleum products.

He said that NPA subsidised N3.5bn between 2009 to 2016.

According to him, the rebate had affected operations of NPA during those periods under review.

Sekonte said that dredging took almost 70 percent of the authority’s expenditure which was done by International companies to enable constant dredging of the ports.

He said, “NPA is partnering with international companies such as the Lagos Channel Management, Bonny Channel Company and Calabar Channel Management.

“The dredging company provides technology while NPA provides money to carry out the dredging operations on Nigerian Ports.

“There is a limitation on dredging the Nigerian Ports which could only accommodate 13 metres to avoid environmental hazards.

“The establishment of deep seaports would enable mother vessels to berth into Nigerian ports.”

He said that the present management of the authority had deemed it fit to engage in continuous collaboration with all stakeholders to enable more vessels to visit Nigerian ports.

The executive director said NPA gives 30 per cent rebate to Ship To Ship operation adding that both their dollars and naira charges goes into Single Treasury’s Account of the Federal Government.

He said that NPA would collaborate with other agencies to arrive at an appropriate calculation to determine NPA charges to make Nigerian ports a preferred destination and accessible for wet cargos.

Sekonte said that “shipping is an international business and brought into the country a lot of dollars.

“The authority pays all dues to international organisations on regulation control in dollars,” the executive director said.

He urged the Chief Economic Adviser to President to assist the authority to inform the Central Bank of Nigeria to grant the shipping companies access to their dollars on Treasury Single Account to reduce the time of doing business.

In his response, the Director, Legal Services of NIMASA,  Suleiman Abdulsalam, representing the Director-General, Dr Dakuku Peterside, said the agency was saddled with the responsibility of ensuring safe and secure shipping.

Peterside said that NIMASA engaged in some international obligations on Port State Control for the safety of the maritime environment.

He said that recently the agency apprehended a petroleum product vessel which was trying to divert from its initial destination from Nigeria to Durban and Philadelphia due to the surveillance system of the agency.