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ANLCA calls for stable importation exchange rate

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…Threatens to Shutdown Nigerian Ports

 

By Bisi LAWAL

 

The Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) has called on the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to have a stable exchange rate for importation over a period of six months.

Speaking during a world press conference, National President of ANLCA, Mr Emenike Nwokeoji threatened to shut down the nation’s ports in collaboration with Labour Unions if the federal government fails to address the volatility of the exchange rate.

The National President of ANLCA said, “We now have a situation where the exchange rates which were in the neighbourhood of N483 to a US Dollar since eight (8) months ago have continued shooting up to now close to N2,000 to a US Dollar but the appalling thing is the continuous change of the official trade transactional rates, sometimes, up to twice or thrice a day (floating exchange rate).

“Apart from the elementary economics that teaches us that no country can afford to allow her currency to be subjected to the law of supply and demand without hurting her economy, the more pressing issue is that the constant and upward changes in the exchange rate for customs trade purposes are putting everything in a state of confusion.

“For one, it does not allow for planning by business entities in their import business endeavours. A company does not have the opportunity to estimate the cost of its import to ascertain the viability of a certain transaction. It is more frustrating for companies with bank financing.

“On our part as customs agents/brokers/freight forwarders, we now find it impossible to make credible quotes for jobs as the constant upwards reviews of exchange rates render such quotes impracticable. Even the already contracted jobs are experiencing huge difficulties.

“Our members have cried out in agony and as responsive leadership of the association, we made moves to the Comptroller General of Customs and his management team, the explanation we got was that the rates are automatically generated by the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, hence, they (customs) could not do anything about it.

“We are therefore, calling on the Federal Government of Nigeria to direct the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN and other authorities involved in the exchange rate issuance to urgently stem the tide of this tension which may sound a death knell on import trade sooner than later.”

The Chairman Board of Trustees of ANLCA, Alhaji Taiwo Mustapha, lamented that fluctuations in the exchange rate has affected members of the association negatively and their Importers.

“In the last one year, we have witnessed a situation where the exchange rate remained in the region of N350, and we used it for years. Shortly before the elections last year, it jumped to about N420 and we thought we had seen enough, we didn’t know that we are just starting. Within the last six months, from that N420, it has grown to N1,800 as at Tuesday.

“We cannot afford our exchange rate to be floating, especially when it has to do with Customs duty payment.

“This has affected most of our practitioners at the port today, the volume of cargo at the port has reduced drastically because people can no longer import at that rate any longer. If care is not taken, if we keep quiet and continue like that, most of us will go out of business.

“Our staff are seating idle at the offices, and we are paying salaries because there is no job to be done. Take a look at the auto dealers on some of the streets, the number of vehicles on their stand has reduced dramatically.

“What we are saying is that we don’t want to fight the government, we are already appealing to the government to look into it, but if at the end of the day nothing is done, at our own level, we would collaborate with the labour workers and NLC to shut down the port, at that time, maybe the government would do the needful.

“We are not going to stand aloof and watch the situation. We have met the CG of Customs, and he has told us the effort he has made at his own level by interacting with the Minister of Finance, Minister of Trade and the CBN, we believe that all these discussions would be taken to the President where the bulk stops” he lamented.

Another board member of ANLCA, Sir Earnest Elochukwu posited that the members of the association are already agitated, and that the leadership would have no choice than to do their bidding when the chips are down.

“We are worried like every Nigerian as to where we are heading, we are now lending our voice to call the attention of those managing our economy for them to know what they are doing to control the exchange rate.

“Where all these fail, our members are already agitating, and if at the end of the day, they decide to down tools, we as their leaders, we would not work against them, we would do what they want.

“However, we are hoping that the government can do the right thing so that life can go on” he advised.

Meanwhile, Importers and customs brokers on Friday again woke up to a cheery news of the exchange rate for Customs import calculations has dropped from ₦1,605.52 to N1,488.896 per Dollar.

The latest drop in exchange rate which is determined by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has taken immediate effect on the customs portal.

 

 

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