Maritime Stakeholders Lose $4bn Revenue Annually
Stakeholders in the maritime sector have lamented that the Federal Government loses a whopping $4 billion annually due to the absence of a Disbursement Account (DA) for shipping agents.
The stakeholders opined that if the government operated a dedicated account, that would save operators in the sector from sourcing forex from outside the shores of the country.
The groups said the account would cater for the operational costs of their multinational principals overseas.
The stakeholders, who spoke included one of the founders of the National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF), Dr. Boniface Aniebonam, president of Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agent (ANLCA), Iju Tony Nwabunike, a member of the Nigerian Economic Group, Dr. Ikenna Nwosu, president of Nigerian Ship Chandlers Association, Dr, Martins Enebeli, and a former president of NAGAFF, Dr. Eugene Nweke.
They made the observation at a meeting called at the instance of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC).
During the meeting, stakeholders were dismayed that disbursement account was yet to be introduced in the country considering when the idea came up.
They maintained that it was wrong that the shipping agents were sourcing foreign exchange locally to settle NPA, NIMASA and other dues when they ought to have been sent such money from their foreign principals overseas.
The participants said the CBN and NSC should expedite action to ensure that the policy takes effect in Nigeria.
The president of Nigerian Ship Chandlers Association, Dr, Martins Enebeli, said Nigeria lost $4 billion annually for not introducing the Disbursement Account for all shipping agents.
He said such amount can bring about a lot of multiplier effects in the industry and the national economy.
The NSC had last year given its position on the DA to the CBN during the review of the new Forex Manual.
In response, CBN had in April this year informed NSC of its acceptance of the DA.
At the meeting, both CBN and NSC had expressed the desire in collaborating to compel all shipping agencies to open Disbursement Accounts (DAs) from which they would carry out operational costs for their multinational principals overseas.
The Executive Secretary of NSC, Mr Hassan Bello, explained during a meeting between the CBN representative and the shipping industry stakeholders in Lagos that maintenance of a disbursement account as provided by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), the Minimum Standards for Shipping Agents’ stopped the agents from going to local market to source foreign exchange to settle charges incurred by their vessel locally.
Bello, who was represented on the occasion by the Director, Legal Services of the Council, Mr Samuel Vongtao, identified such charges to be covered by the DAs as those collected by the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Nigerian Maritime Safety and Administration Agency (NIMASA); ship chandelling costs and other local shipping costs.
The CBN Deputy Director, Foreign Exchange Management, Trade & Exchange Department, Mr. A.S. Jibrin, said the idea of the meeting with the stakeholders was to ensure that the DA enjoyed the support of those in the shipping industry.
A former director, Shipping Services of NSC, Mrs Dabney Shall-Holma, said the disbursement account, when introduced, would go a long way in improving the contributions of the shipping sector to the country’s gross domestic product (GDP).