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Several Vehicles Trapped At Borders …As Imports Ban Takes Off

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The Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) has kicked off the implementation of the policy banning importation of vehicles through the land borders with many vehicles trapped at the borders.
The Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA), Seme chapter, however, disclosed said that so many vehicles were trapped at the border posts.
The Public Relations Officer of the NCS, Seme Command, Mr Selechang Taupyen, told The Tide source in Badagry that the service had to comply with government’s fiscal policy.
Taupyen said that officials of the command had been placed at strategic places to curb any form of smuggling of cars.
The Federal Government had on Dec. 5 placed a ban on importation of used and new vehicles through land borders with effect from Jan. 1, 2017.
“The Federal Government has directed that importation of cars through the land borders should be banned and we are the agency that would enforce it so we have started with that.
“The border is close to the point of importation of cars and the command has placed its men and escorts at strategic places to ensure that there is no smuggling of cars through the border.
“We also have a good working relationship and synergy with other security agencies who assist us in enforcing this policy because we all work for the same government.
“We advise the public to abide by the government policy and if they must purchase a car then it should come through the sea port as any vehicle that tries to come through the land border would be seized and confiscated.
“Violators of the law would face the full wrath of the law,’’ he said.
Taupyen said that the policy was meant to encourage local production of vehicles in the country.
“The public must look at the long term benefit of this policy as this would help in encouraging local production of vehicles and it would boost the economy.
The Chairman of ANLCA, Alhaji Bisiriyu Danu, said as at Friday, Dec. 30, 2016, the Customs Authorities asked the agents to stop payment of Customs duty on vehicles by 5 p.m.
Danu said the association was not aware of any circular counter to the ban.
He said that so many vehicles uncleared by Customs agents were as at this morning (Jan. 3, 2017) trapped at the ports of neighbouring countries.
The Customs agent said that the association went into dialogue with some government representatives to grant a three-month grace period.
Danu said the grace period would enable ships carrying vehicles to berth for clearance before implementation of the ban.
The Customs agent said the ban would render many car dealers around Badagry and environs idle and this could be a dangerous trend.
He said that the enforcement of the policy would increase smuggling activities across the border.
Danu said that the policy would also increase unemployment among youths in the area.
“The Seme border is extremely porous and the situation has been managed properly by Customs officials but this policy is going to increase smuggling..
“All the unapproved routes would be exploited by smugglers. So smuggling would be on the rise with this policy that the government has put in place.
“Also it would increase the rate of unemployment of youths in this area as many people rely on this as a means of livelihood.
“The government should consider all these factors and lift the ban of vehicles through the land borders,” he said.
A major stakeholder in Seme, Chief Sam Maduike, pleaded with the Federal Government to lift the ban.
“The policy is going to bring untold hardship to the masses as the average Nigerians cannot afford to buy a brand new car.
“Also many people rely on buying used vehicles as their means of livelihood but this policy is just going to worsen the situation of things in the country.
“The government should consider all these and ift the ban,” he said.
A resident, Mr Tunde Apata, pleaded with the government to lift the ban.
“I helped people to buy cars from Cotonou and I have been doing that for several years. So, basically, this has been my only source of income.
“With the ban, I do not know how I would cater for myself and family. I am doomed,’’ he said.
Apata said the service was complying with the directive of the Federal Government that no vehicles should come through the border posts.
The President of the National Council of Managing Directors of Licensed Customs Agents, Mr Lucky Amiwero, said that the Federal Government should inaugurate a committee to look critically at the implications of the ban on vehicle imports.
He said that government should also look at the risk of lives of Customs officers because there would be increase in smuggling.
Amiwero said that a question that should also be asked is “Are Nigerian Ports friendly to accept vehicles’’?
He urged government to address the high cost of doing business in Nigerian ports.
“Our drafts level should be increased to accommodate bigger ships carrying vehicles.
“The most important thing is for government to provide a way for ships to sail easily into Nigerian ports and reduce the costs of doing business at the ports,’’ Amiwero said.
The Customs agent said that the shipping costs, the terminal operators handling costs and other costs make importation of vehicles into Nigerian ports most expensive compared to other ports in the sub-region.
He said that the port costs, the value of the vehicles and the procedures of clearance were very key.
Amiwero recalled that in 1998 and 1999, he agitated to bring back cargoes through the land borders because government was losing a lot of revenue to neighbouring ports.
“We have porous borders and we do not have the tool to check smuggling, ‘’ Amiwero said.
He said that operators of assembly plants should also be provided with the necessary conducive environment.
The National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF) on Tuesday said it supported the ban.
The National Publicity Secretary of the association, Mr Stanley Ezenga, said that the association‘s support was borne out of the economic benefits that the policy would bring to the nation.
Ezenga said that this “is in terms of revenue and improved capacities in local automobile manufacturing’’.
“We support the new policy to ban vehicles through the land borders in its entirety because of the obvious economic benefits to the nation.
“First, activities are at their lowest ebb at the various ports due to diversion of cargoes to ports in neighbouring countries and we believe the policy will make our ports busy as vehicles will now have to come in through the ports.
“Also, there is the government`s Auto-Policy in place designed to encourage local capacities in the manufacturing of vehicles.
“So we believe the policy would prevent dumping and smuggling through better monitoring,’’ he said.
On whether the policy has taken off on Jan 1 planned date, Ezenga said he would need feed backs from his men around border posts to be sure.
“The National Assembly once called for the suspension of the policy but I do not know if the Federal Government is going ahead or backing off.
“It is still very early in January. Our men are on the field and we will know with time if the policy is going ahead or not,” he said.

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CAC Registers 245,000  SMEs Free Of Charge

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The Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) says it has registered more than 245,000 Small and Medium Enterp-rises  free of charge.
The Registrar-General, Alhaji Garba Abubakar,  said in Abuja on Wednesday that it did this with the approval of the Federal Government.
The Federal Government, he said, approved the free registration of 250,000 business names as part of its intervention to assuage the economic effect of Covid-19.
He said the Federal  Government paid 50 per cent of the cost of registration to CAC and more than 245,000 business names were consequently registered.
Abubakar explained that the process was electronic and applicants also got their certificates electronically.
He added that the numbers were divided between the 36 states of the federation and the FCT noting that Lagos, Abia and Kano States had the largest numbers.
He said free registration of 6, 606 business names was approved for 33 states while Abia, Lagos and Kano States would have 7, 906, 9,084 and 8,406 respectively.
Abubakar noted that aggregators were appointed and paid to collect SMEs information and submit same to CAC.
He explained that the commission provided special access for the aggregators for effective service delivery since they were responsible for scanning and uploading of documents.
He added that CAC had to take over from one of the aggregators appointed for two states but failed to deliver.
Abubakar said also that the intervention of CAC and appointment of substitute aggregators to take over in the two states sped up the process, already nearing completion.
“We are hoping that by end of September the exercise will come to an end,’’ he said.

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IPMAN Seeks Foreign Partnership For Robust Refinery Deal

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The Chairman, Rivers State Chapter of Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN),  Mr King Eppie, has said that he would be seeking the partnership of foreign bodies as part of his plans to strengthen the association.
Eppie said this when he spoke in a chat with newsmen in his office in Eleme, Eleme Local Government Area, Rivers State, Wednesday.
He pointed out that such plans would also encourage business growth especially to some of his members whom he said are  experiencing stormy business weather.
According to him, the challenging business condition was as a result of  non functional refineries in the country, stressing the need to seek for partnership.
He said that since its core business area was petroleum products, that his leadership would do all within its reach to improve the  system.
The Rivers IPMAN boss,  expressed hope that the ailing refineries in the country would bounce back to life.
“ I will be happy to see the refineries working again. Most of our members are suffering and business is no longer what it used to be, that’s why I want the refineries to come back to operation”, he said.
About the issue of legal battle in the association, he said that his team has been vindicated by the Apex court by declaring him the authentic chairman of IPMAN in Rivers State.
He recalled that the association was in a legal battle for about eight years, but expressed joy over its victorious end.
To those who were on the other side of the divide, he said that he has extended an olive branch to them as part of his plans to run an  all inclusive government.
“ The platform for those who went to court against us has been created for them to come back to the fold. IPMAN is one in the state and we are open to all, that is why we want everyone to come back”, he said.
The Tide learnt that the IPMAN chairman is  barely one week in office after years of legal battle that greeted the association as a result of leadership tussle.

By:King Onunwor

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1,818 MSMEs Benefit From Covid-19 Recovery Package In Delta

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No fewer than 1,818 Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) have benefited from Federal Government and the World Bank Covid-19 Action Recovery Economic Stimulus (NG-CARES) in Delta.
Governor Ifeanyi Okowa addressed the beneficiaries at the launch of funds disbursement in Asaba on Wednesday.
He commended the Federal Government and the World Bank for the partnership to provide succour for those affected by the pandemic in the country.
He said that now that the scheme had been domesticated in the state, the beneficiaries were in the first phase of the programme.
Okowa also lauded the Nigeria Governor’s Forum (NGF) for supporting the federal government to ensure that the programme was approved by the World Bank for implementation in Nigeria.
He also thanked the World Bank for the intervention and for working with state governments in the country towards cushioning the socio-economic effects of Covid-19 pandemic on the people, particularly the poor and vulnerable.
According to Okowa, today’s ceremony is a major step at putting MSMEs that are badly hurt by the pandemic on the path of recovery and growth.
He said this was “more so, with the disbursement of funds to the first set of 1,818 beneficiaries who have met the World Bank stipulated eligibility criteria within the initial six months.
“A total of 2,529 MSMEs are expected to receive grants to support post-covid-19 loans, operational costs and to enhance their IT capabilities.
“Indeed, we are glad to be part of the CARES programme of the Federal Government.
“The focus of intervention clearly aligns with the priority of the state government to give relief to those whose lives, businesses, jobs and means of livelihood have been distorted by the pandemic.
“The programme, which we have domesticated as the Delta CARES, is a two-year emergency recovery programme.
“It is aimed at supporting state governments’ budgeted programme of expenditures and interventions.
“It is to enable them to expand access to livelihood support, food security services, and grants for poor and vulnerable households and firms,” he said.
He said that the programme would also directly support 25,269 poor and vulnerable households with social transfers, basic services and livelihood grants.
The governor said it would as well support 13,976 farmers to boost food production and ensure smooth functioning of the food supply chain.
“The outlined figures are the targets stipulated by the World Bank, but do not preclude the State Government from scaling up if the need arises.
“It is my expectation that those charged with the implementation of Delta-CARES will be faithful in executing the mandate so that the desired results are achieved, bearing in mind that it is a Programme for Result (PforR),” Okowa said.
On his part, Dr Barry Pere-Gbe, Chairman, Steering Committee for Delta-CARES and State Commissioner for Economic Planning, commended Okowa for providing the funds for the programme.
Pere-Gbe was represented by the Commissioner for Youths Development, Mr Ifeanyi Egwunyenga.
He said that the main focus of the programme was to bring succour to residents whose means of livelihood had been disrupted by the impacts of Covid-19.
He said that the programme was hinged on three thematic area.

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