MARITIME activities closed at the weekend with the President, Shippers Association Lagos State, Mr Jonathan Nicol, saying that the floating exchange rate might shed three million staff strength in the maritime sector.
According to him, the recent increase in exchange rate of N313 to the dollar is not only unprofessional but conveys the ignorance of port administrators including the Central Bank of Nigeria.
He noted that with the new forex regime, shippers are paying more duty and costs of consumer goods were going up.
Similarly, the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents, threatened to shut down the nation’s ports over 43 per cent hike in customs duty.
President of the association, Alhaji Olayiwola Shittu, said that the association condemned in totality the monetary policy that led to the collapse of the maritime industry.
He frowned at the import regime of fixing the foreign exchange rate at N331 to the dollar.“There should have been a deliberate effort to save Nigerian importers from the debilitating effect of fixing the foreign exchange in calculating the import duty.”
He noted that it was condemnable to force Nigerians to open form ‘M’ for imports at N197 to the dollar, and now forced to pay N331 after the goods had been shipped.
Meanwhile, the NCS opened collaboration with their counterparts in Republic of Benin to facilitate trade and resolve bottlenecks affecting transhipment of goods.
The Comptroller-General of Nigeria Customs Service, Retired Col. Hameed Ali, said this when he visited the Republic of Benin with his team.
Ali said, “Customs is here to see and find solutions to the challenges hindering the smooth operations of Nigerian business operators who engaged in inter-border trade and transshipment of goods from Nigeria to Republic of Benin.
In his response, the Director-General, Republic of Benin Customs, Mr. Claver Tossou, said there was need for the country to solidify the relationship between Benin Republic and Nigeria to facilitate legitimate trade both countries.
Tossou said the coming of the NCS was a right step in good direction, adding that the visit would enable them to iron out the challenges and find lasting solutions to facilitate trade and protection of security among the operators.
He said that there was need to protect the Customs laws, symbol and the principles and to establish long lasting cooperation between both countries.