The Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC) has urged the federal government to come up with deliberate, concise and concrete steps to position the maritime industry in such a way that it can give back in big measure to the economy.
The executive secretary and chief executive officer of the Council, Mr Hassan Bello in a recent interview with LEADERSHIP said this is the most critical time government needed to show more commitment to the maritime and shipping industry since the government triples its earnings from the sector if well harnessed.
Experts assert that over 70 per cent of Customs revenue comes from the seaports in Lagos, but access roads to the ports remain perennially in poor condition.
“It is not like government is not showing concern, but government should show more concern. Now the governments needs revenue more than any other time and maritime sector and the shipping industry are available for it to deliver and triple the revenue that we are getting,” Bello said.
He adduced that the maritime industry is a significant factor in the growth of Nigeria’s economy, including areas of infrastructure, revenue and employment.
“So the contribution of the maritime sector to the GDP can be tremendous if well harnessed. Now in harnessing that, there has to be unison and coordination in the sector and that is why we are here. The Nigerian Shippers Council as the coordinator and economic regulator of the shipping industry. In all our works, efforts have been geared toward providing harmony and coordination necessary to harness the benefits of the industry for the improvement of Nigeria’s economy,” he said.
He said 80 per cent of goods come in and go out through the port, making Nigeria’s international trade to be hinged on port system.
“Therefore, it is very important for the port to be well placed in terms of infrastructure. We have to improve the infrastructure in the port and this means channels, berths, access to the port which should be multi-modal- not only by road, but by rail. We should be talking about power in the port. So, government should create the conducive atmosphere for that,” the NSC boss stated.
He also said inland dry ports being developed in the six geo-political zones of the country would replicate the port economy in those areas. He therefore urged inland dry ports concessionaires to continue work on the ports for the benefits of the ports to manifest.
He said, “The whole idea is develop the inland dry port so that containers from they are taking directly from the ship to the rail and then to the inland containers. We have five. There one in Isiala-Ngwa proposed, one in Kano, another in Funtua and one in Maiduguri. There is also one in Jos and another in Ibadan. The Kaduna inland port for instance is now a port of origin and port of destination. What this means is that goods can be exported right away from the port and goods can be received from the port too. This is different from a bonded warehouse.
“What we are trying to do now is to make sure that all the other ports are declared and gazette as port of origin and port of destination and that is very important. This will improve infrastructure and boost trade because a shipper needs not come to the seaport. He has a port by his side and then we can replicate the economics of seaport in those places. This will boost the economy. So we are calling on the federal government to declare these ports also as ports of origin and destination and we are calling on the concessionaire, because these five inland ports have already been concessioned to come back and work. We will have operational utility of these ports.”
On the Cargo Tracking Note (CTN), Bello said the NSC is still consulting with stakeholders and trying to see that cargoes tracking note is nothing but a tool of trade facilitation.
“It is done everywhere in the world and it signifies transparency. It is not anything strange. CTN is also part of International ship and Port facility Security (ISPS) Code and it is for mandatory application. It will enhance the acceptability of our ports for international trade. It is a tool of trade that will eliminate corruption and bring out transparency. It is a tool of trade that will eliminate tax evasion and concealment of cargo. It will boost the revenue of the federal government. “What happens is people are importing and not declaring the proper description for classification of cargo. If you import a Mercedes Benz 2015, many people would declare it as 2010 and we have no way of knowing that. This is under-declaration and fraudulent. The duty he’s going to pay will be that of 2010 and not of 2015. So this is tax evasion and sometimes outright concealment where people conceal the cargo, you will not even know that the cargo is there,” he said.
Source : Leadership