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Ports congestion looms over suspension of banks’ import duty collection

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Friday, May 19th, 2023
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There are indications that stakeholders in the customs duty and cargo clearance industry are tensed up over the impact of suspension of a first generation bank from Customs Duty collection by the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN.

Vanguard learnt that several cargoes have already been trapped at the various seaports across the country following the development.

The CBN’s action was at the backdrop of a similar position of the House of Representatives Committee on Customs over failure of some banks to remit to the federation account, monies collected on behalf of the Federal Government on import and export duties.

Speaking to journalists, the acting President of the Association of Nigerian Licenced Customs Agents (ANLCA), Dr Kayode Farinto, who confirmed the development, said that currently clearing agents have been unable to clear cargoes from the port because Customs would not accept duty payment on PAAR or Form ‘M’ opened under the suspended bank.

He stated: “The group has concluded plans to drag the bank before EFCC or ICPC, let it be established that a financial crime has been committed, so that going forward, we would not be having recurrence of such issue’’.

Meanwhile, freight forwarders have threatened to shut down the port on or before May 29 if the problem is not resolved.

Giving the ultimatum in Lagos yesterday, National Coordinator of the 100 per cent Compliance Team of the National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders, NAGAFF, Ibrahim Tanko, said unless the Customs and the Federal Ministry of Finance look for a way out of the problem, freight forwarders may be forced to shut down the ports on or before May 29.

On the options available for solving the problem, Tanko said Customs should open the option of alternative window known as “Alternative Area Window Code” that enables those with Form M in the affected bank to make declaration in other banks to enable them commence clearance process. He explained that most shippers route their Form M through the bank, noting that with the ban, the bank cannot attend to shippers.

This, he said, has resulted in about 6 to 7 per cent reduction in the collectable revenue of the Customs while consignments trapped at the port are accumulating demurrage.

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