Segun Oladipupo |
Freight forwarders and customs brokers on Tuesday kicked against the plan of the federal government to collect Practitioners Operating Fee (POF) in Nigerian Ports saying the fee would increase the cost of doing business in the port.
Recall that the Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarding in Nigeria (CRFFN) has announced the commencement of the payment of a thousand naira on 20 feet container, two thousand naira on 40 feet container, 350k per tonne on General cargo while it will cost one naira per tonne on bulk cargo to be paid to the Council.
But some aggrieved freight forwarders and Customs Brokers were miffed about the condition placed on the payment of the fee that no cargo would be allowed to exit the port without payment of the fee.
They lampooned the Council for heaping unnecessary burden on the end users of the cargoes cleared from the port saying they already had a handful of levies and duties to pay and that if the POF is added, it would escalate the cost of clearing goods at the port.
Some of the people that spoke with our correspondent said the development will lead to further increase in cost of goods in the market.
Mr. Femi Abiodun Olabanji who was embittered with the introduction of the fee said; “The problem we are passing through in this port is too much, do you want to kill us?
“If the CRFFN was established to regulate the freight forwarding practice, it is not to come and collect money.
“This system will lead to more demurrage in the port before they say we must pay before our cargo can exit the port.
“We pay importation duty to Customs that is the VAT, 7 percent, 1 percent CIS, shipping company charges of container charges and rent on the container, you will pay all these charges with VAT.
“You will pay terminal charges with VAT, if you import goods relating to NAFDAC, you will pay them with VAT, if you bring in goods relating to SON, you will pay with VAT, so also Plant Quarantine Service, you will pay their money with VAT.
“Whether you pay normal duty or not, you will pay for dropping off container, customs examination and releasing fees. All these are borne by the importer.
Mr. Iwunor John of NAFFAC Airport chapter said, “Do you know how many taxes we pay in airport? FAAN collects several charges from us and they will still collect money for Identity Cards up to the tune of N15 thousand.
“There are other groups that collect money and we are not collecting salary from anybody, why will you not have mercy on us?
“Since government is more powerful than any individual, I want to beg you please the amount with which we register for both company and individual should be reduced.
According to Mr. Yomi Adebola “Everybody is talking about payment of POF but my question is if council was created to protect our interest, I see the payment of POF as adding to our burden.
“Other professional bodies like ICAN pay professional dues annually, why not limit our own too to annual payment instead of asking us to pay per shipment.
“We pay customs duty and other charges; this one you want us to pay, who do we refer it to?
Speaking, the Registrar of the Council, Barrister Samuel Nwakohu maintained that mechanism has been put in place to tackle the divergent opinions of the freight forwarders.
“I do not share your view that majority of them are not at home with the POF, it is only a group sitting there, every other person is in agreement with the POF collection.
He added that it was necessary for government to attach such condition in order to be able to collect the fees which he said was to fund “their regulator.”
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