Nigerian Port Strikes Caused By CBN E-invoice Policy
Implementation of e-invoices and e-evaluations by the Central Bank of Nigeria has created substantial problems at ports.
A number of agents and freight forwarders working at the two ports have withdrawn their services, which may have halted port activities on Tin-Can Island and at the Ports & Terminal Multipurpose Limited.
The agents have threatened to expand their strike to all Lagos State’s ports, including Apapa and Kirikiri Lighter Terminal, if their demands are not met.
Read also: Nigerians Should Embrace eNaira – CBN
Earlier this month, the Central Bank of Nigeria issued a circular to all authorized dealers and the general public the introduction of e-invoicing for all imports and exports in Nigeria starting in February 2022.
According to reports, the Nigerian House of Representatives had reportedly asked the CBN to stop implementing this policy. The motion was moved by Honourable Leke Abejide (APC, Kogi).
The central bank, however, did not communicate a new date and went ahead with the new policy. Consequently, freight forwarders operating at both the Tin-Can Island and PTML last week gave the authority 72 hours to address the technical glitches facing the newly introduced e-valuation system or face industrial action.
In what appears like a follow-up to their earlier threat, the aggrieved freight forwarders on Monday commenced the withdrawal of their services till further notice.
What they are saying
Sunny Ugorji, the Assistant Secretary, PTML Chapter of the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents, stated that the agents were not against the platform but the implementation process.
Ugorji, said the implementation showed the officers of the Nigerian Customs Service had increased the duties on imported cars without the notice of the agents.
He said, “We only withdrew our services because of the e-valuation, there is no work; we have withdrawn our services until they correct the e-valuation system. We are not against e-valuation, what we are against is the implementation of the platform. The implementation is indicating that the Nigeria Customs Service has increased duties without informing us. I don’t see why when they say e-valuation; it simply means we are going to observe port operations with no much interface which is good”
He added, “We have succeeded in withdrawing our services both at the PTML Command and Tin-Can. By tomorrow (Tuesday) we are going to Apapa. On Wednesday, we are going to KLT to make sure we all speak with one voice.”
The Chairman of the National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders, PTML chapter, George Okafor, said, “We just withdrew our services; all the agents have withdrawn their services at PTML. Our attention was only at PTML but it has now extended to Tin-Can. We are on it until the government speaks to us. We gave the Customs Controller-General 72 hours to talk to us but until now, he hasn’t done that. So we are withdrawing our services until the Customs talk to us.”
Muhammad Yakubu, the Public Relations Officer of the PTML Command, NCS, acknowledged the discontinuation of service, noting that the command was just executing the government’s e-valuation policy.
He said, “They have been on strike since we came to the office. I keep on telling them that this thing is beyond us (Customs), it is a Federal Government policy and we are just here to implement the policy. They should talk to the Federal Government.”
The PRO, Tin-Can Island Command, NCS, Uche Ejesieme, advised the protesters to act within the ambit of the laws.
E-evaluator and e-invoice: What you should know
- To replace hard copy final invoices as part of the documentation necessary for all import and export transactions, the e-evaluator and e-Invoice were introduced.
- Imports and exports having unit prices greater than 2.5% of verified global checkmate prices will be investigated and will not be allowed to complete Form M or Form NXP successfully.
- A payment to a foreign supplier’s credit cannot be made by an importer/exporter unless the electronic invoice is authenticated by a bank authorized to act as the bank’s agent and all relevant payment documents are provided.