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Maritime Unions kick against FG’s 50% revenue slash, threaten port shutdown

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Lagos, Nigeria: entrance to the RoRo port - Nigerian Ports Authority - photo by A.Bartel

By Tayo AFOLABI

 

Federal Government plan to slash internally generated revenue (IGR) from Federal Government-Owned Enterprises (FGOE), including the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), by 50 per cent has been condemned.

The Senior Staff Association of Statutory Corporations and Government-Owned Companies Branch (SSASCGOC) and the Maritime Workers  Union of Nigeria (MWUN) on Monday threatened a shutdown of ports nationwide arguing that the NPA will be affected if the government proceeds with its plan.

At a joint press briefing held on Monday, the President of SSASCGOC, Comrade Akinola Bodunde, and the President General of MWUN, Comrade Adewale Adeyanju, expressed displeasure with the directive issued by the Federal Ministry of Finance in a circular titled Ref FMFCME/OTHERS/IGR/CFR/21/2023 dated December 28, 2023, which was addressed to all Federal Ministries, Departments, and Agencies/Parastatals on the automatic deduction of 50 percent from their internally generated revenue.

Com. Akinola Bodunde, speaking on behalf of the unions, expressed outrage and frustration over the potential consequences of such a drastic measure.

He said the 50 per cent deduction would lead to financial strain and operational disruption, particularly for the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA).

Bodunde pointed out that a 50 per cent reduction would spell disaster for NPA’s operational capabilities being a self-funded entity and reliant on its IGR.

He said tasks vital to maritime operations, such as dredging port channels and maintaining infrastructure, would be severely compromised, leading to potential disruptions in vessel traffic and port activities.

The SSASCGOC President added that the proposed deduction poses a significant threat to workforce development and corporate social responsibility initiatives.

On his part, the President General of MWUN, Com. Adewale Adeyanju, argued that the reduction in revenue would hinder investment in employee training and welfare very germane for efficient port operations.

According to the workers, “Our attention has been drawn to the Federal Ministry of Finance’s circular Ref FMFCME/OTHERS/IGR/CFR/21/2023 dated December 28, 2023, addressed to all Federal Ministries, Departments, and Agencies/Parastatals on the automatic deduction of 50% from internally generated revenue.

“We have carefully studied this circular, especially as it relates to or affects the Nigerian Ports Authority, and hasten to express our displeasure over the same on the following grounds:.

“Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) is a self-funded government agency that receives zero allocation from the government budget, and taking a chunk of 50 per cent of its internally generated revenue will, as a matter of fact, stall or impede the effective discharge of its corporate responsibilities, and the consequential effect of this will not be palatable.

“A few of such corporate duties include Constant Dredging of Our Port Channels. Our channels are probably the shallowest in the West Africa Sub-region, especially the Eastern Ports channels.

“They require constant dredging, without which vessels cannot be easily piloted to berth. Dredging of the Ports channels requires a huge financial outlay. This will be pretty difficult to achieve when 50 percent of NPA’s internally generated revenue is removed. The resultant effect will lead to ship owners diverting their vessels to our neighbouring countries, where ease of doing business is provided.

“Regular maintenance of our Quay Aprons.

“Almost all the Ports Quay Aprons are in bad shape due to old age, and they, therefore, constitute grave danger not only to men but also to equipment. We had at one time or another expressed fear over the dilapidated condition of our Ports Quay Aprons.

“Maintaining and sustaining healthy Quay Aprons is capital-intensive, and if our Quay Aprons are this bad now, one can only imagine what the situation would look like when NPA is denied 50 per cent of its revenue.

“We need to be proactive, as our neighbouring countries are very ready to capitalise on our inability to provide the required infrastructure to attract ship owners.

“Maintenance of Ports, Jetties, and Terminals:

“Maintenance of Ports, Jetties, and Terminals is also capital-intensive. Presently, all the infrastructure in our ports, jetties, and terminals is in a decrepit position, yawning for urgent repairs. How would they then look when the authority is denied 50 percent of its internally generated revenue? The situation is better imagined than described.

“Manpower Development

“A healthy and well-trained workforce is a prerequisite for improved productivity and efficient service delivery. Needless to say, port operations are a specialised one that requires a well-trained workforce to compete favourably and take the lead to become the hub of maritime business in the West African sub-region. A 50 per cent deduction of NPA-generated revenue will impede the attainment of this lofty dream.

“Discharge of Corporate Social Responsibilities:

“The Nigerian Ports Authority operates in a hostile environment, especially in the Eastern axis. (Niger Delta). The discharge of corporate social responsibilities over time has immensely doused their restiveness, and this has fostered a clement environment for the Authority and other stakeholders to operate.

“An automatic deduction of 50 per cent of its internally generated revenue will definitely leave the authority financially incapacitated to discharge these responsibilities to the host community, which may lead them to resort to unhealthy activities.

“Staff Welfare Issues:

“These are issues that require urgent attention, failure of which usually leads to an inclement industrial atmosphere. Automatic deduction of 50 per cent of revenue internally generated will incapacitate the authority from prompt attendance to staff welfare matters, which will lead to avoidable crises.

“Flowing from the above, we hereby reiterate our objection to the circular as it relates to the Nigerian Ports Authority.

“We recommend that 30 per cent of the revenue internally generated by the Authority could be automatically deducted while 70 per cent is left for the Authority to accomplish its overhead costs and statutory responsibilities, failure of which the Union would have no other option than to withdraw the services of its members from all Ports formations nationwide.”

© 2024, maritimemag. All rights reserved.

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