Abiola Seun |
The outbreak of dreaded Coronavirus (Convid-19) has threatened the over N4trillion revenue target of the federal government in the maritime sector.
Given the decline in the volume of import and export cargoes, financial analysts have predicted that there would be corresponding drop in government revenue as Federal Government agencies such as the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Standard Organisation of Nigeria (SON) and the Nigerian Agency for Food Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), Nigerian Agriculture Quarantine Services (NAQS) among other agencies that generate revenue from authorising the release of cargoes, will also lose revenue significantly.
The federal government had given the customs Service a revenue target of N1.5trillion which the service has jacked up to N2trillion.
The service in 2019 generated whooping N1.341 trillion. It exceeded l its target of N937 billion by N404 billion.
The service also generated N1.20 trillion in 2018, but, the out break of the Coronavirus is expected to make the N2trillion revenue target a mirage.
NPA generated N299.56 billion in 2017, and N118billion in 7 months in 2018. – NIMASA in 2018 contributed a total of N22. billion to the federation account.
But, these revenue-generating agencies according to investigation won’t generate as much this year because vessels call into the seaports have reduced significantly due to fear of the spread of the virus.
Also, the level of imports arriving Nigerian ports is gradually dropping while port calls to China are becoming less frequent.
This was as a result of fear of contacting the disease and a slowdown in the Chinese economy have deterred cruise liners, container ships, oil tankers and bulk carriers alike from stopping at the nation’s harbours.
Commercial vessels have stopped arriving, with port calls falling by an estimated 30 per cent in February, and container throughput estimated to decline by between 20 and 30 per cent, according to Clarksons, a shipping research company.
However, with more than 50 per cent of Nigeria Import coming from China, many of Nigerian importers are now afraid to take cargoes from China, even as millions who usually travel during this period are cancelling their trips.
Conversely, stakeholders described the Coronavirus as a very big blow to Nigeria economy, because most of Nigeria imports are from China, Hong Kong, and other Asian countries and presently, people are scared to take any consignment from China.
It was also gathered that China, United States of America, and India that are Nigeria’s major import trading partners with 31.34 percent, 11.35 percent and 7.49 percent of the country’s total imports coming from these countries, according to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) third quarter report have reported case (s) of Coronavirus.
This situation is going to affect Nigerian Maritime industry seriously because close to 50 percent of imports into Nigeria especially machinery, raw materials and finished products come from China and other Far East Asian countries,” Tony Anakebe, managing director of Gold-Link Investment Ltd, a Lagos-based clearing and forwarding firm, said in a chat with journalists.
According to him, importers no longer travel to China to buy goods while the people already there before the outbreak of the disease are currently stuck because airlines are also cancelling flights from China due to rejection in destination airports.
However, Coronavirus has spread to 90 more countries apart from China alarming public health authorities across the world. A total of 102,192 (including 80,651 in Mainland China, 107 in Hong Kong, and ten in Macau) confirmed cases of novel coronavirus infection including 3,491 deaths (including 3,044 in China, 197 in Italy, 124 in Iran, 44 in South Korea, 12 in Japan, 17 in the US, nine in France, five in Spain, two in Australia and the UK, four in Iraq, and one each in the Philippines, the Netherlands, Switzerland, San Marino, Thailand, and Taiwan) have been reported across the world as of 07 March 2020.
With the confirmation of the presence of this disease in Nigeria after an Italian national (a country that has become the worst affected in Europe with at least 650 cases and 15 deaths), tested positive to the COVID -19, the country has also joined the list of countries with the virus.
Editing by ‘Biodun Soyele
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