SAN Chairman, Val Usifoh warns against planned reintroduction of CTN

The Chairman, Shipping Association of Nigeria (SAN), Mr. Val Usifoh has called on the Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC) to reconsider its plan to reintroduce the Cargo Tracking Note (CTN) which was scrapped by the Federal Government in 2011.

Speaking in Lagos on Monday, Usifoh, who was the Chairman of the Port Industry Anti-Corruption Standing Committee (PIACSAC) said CTN was stopped five years ago because it did not only place additional financial burden on shippers – importers and exporters – but also added to the cost of doing business at the nation’s seaports.

He said, “I hope that government will have a rethink on it. In 2010, it was approved by the Federal Executive Council and by 2011 it was abolished because they find out that it was not value adding. All the monies collected then, where is it? Who accounted for it?

“Now, the same people have come to Nigeria to say that we can help you make your cargo secure and Nigerians are told it has no cost. If government has decided to reintroduce it, that is its decision but the position of the shipping companies is that there is a cost attached to it, “he said.

A transport logistics expert and Head of Operations Department, Lagos Business School, Dr. Frank Ojadi had a fortnight ago, faulted claims by the NSC that CTN would not attract charges or add to port costs.

His said, “CTN was abolished almost immediately due to the high cost it imposed on shippers (importers and exporters) and the strong opposition to it. It is very strange to hear NSC assume the full powers of the FEC to reintroduce the CTN. The reasons given by them are not convincing since the Customs have the means and ways of monitoring the risks associated with imports.

“Curiously, NSC has been silent on who bears the cost of this scheme. Economic regulation of port operations does not cover issues of this nature. How would the introduction of CTN improve port efficiency? This appears to me to be another taxation which points to increasing the high cost of doing business in Nigeria.”

Usifoh also attributed the decline in volume of import into the country to government’s inconsistent and poorly thought-out fiscal policies.

Such polices he said include the automotive policy, rice policy and the recent Central Bank of Nigeria forex restriction to importers of certain commodities.

Usifoh said activities at the roll-on-roll-off (RORO) terminals in Lagos including the Port and Terminal Multi Services Limited (PTML) has been at the lowest ebb as a result of the automotive policy introduced in 2013, which hiked the duties on imported vehicles from 20% to 70%.

He said the policy led to the diversion of vehicles meant for the Nigerian market to Cotonou Port.

“Business should be predictable so that when you are making investment, medium or long term, you are sure of where you are going. Importation is on the low ebb, business is down for everybody and if it is down for the importer it is down for the ship owner.

“When people cannot predict where to move their investment, it will be difficult to program.

“Before the auto policy came into effect, 80 percent of the fairly used (tokunbo) cars are coming to Nigeria and 20 percent go to Cotonou and all the second hand trucks were coming through Nigeria but after this policy, over half of the second hand vehicles business is going to Cotonuu which means overall, Nigerian ports have lost 50 percent of its vehicle trade.

“Because of what is happening, PTML had to retrench almost half of its staff recently because there is no business and the port has lost its business to Cotonou.

“It also affected revenue generation of Customs because if there is nothing to clear, there will be no income,” he said.

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