By Steve Agbota
The Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) has commended president Muhammadu Buhari, for not signing into law the Customs and Excise Management Act (CEMA) bill, stating that, the bill, if signed, would have thrown the maritime sector into a state of confusion.
The national president of the association, Kayode Farinto, stated that the bill was hurriedly packaged and as such negates some existing acts.
Listing some of the flaws in the bill he said: “For instance if you look at section 7, it negates the rights of any Nigerian to take Customs Service (NCS) to court on issue of litigation, you must seek for clearance or notify them before you take them to court, this is what the President rejected and it’s a welcome development.
“If you also look at the powers given to the board, it eroded the power of the supervising minister and even the power of the President himself which is very bad.
“The issue of Authorised Economic Operator (AEO), that one too, we have not started it yet, they already laid public might for this process, which would have assisted in the industry to move our economy forward that also must be reviewed.
“The other one is the issue of Protection of Intellectual Property, which we have an act already supervising that, so the people that actually brought this CEMA bill together never envisage or they forget to know that Protection of Intellectual Property, is an act itself, so if the President is signing this bill into law, it will be flouting or conflicting with this act.
“This and many other things are what the President looked into and said no, this must not be signed into law because there will be conflict of interest.
“If you also look at the issue of the Export Processing Zone, where a lot of incentives are given to Nigeria importers and exporters, this bill if signed into law will mean that NCS will start collecting tariffs or Levies on exported goods.
“Above all the bill if signed into law will now arrogate the issue of licensing of companies and firms to NCS, don’t forget that we have the Corporate Affairs Commission, and the Corporate Affairs Acts, which empowers them to register any company in Nigeria. So there are so many flaws which Mr. President noticed and it’s a welcome idea” he said.
Farinto also stated that the rejection of the CEMA bill is an opportunity for the Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarders of Nigeria (CRFFN) to make inputs in the bill, particularly, pertaining to having a representative on the NCS board.
“And this is also an opportunity for CRFFN to make their inputs because there are some small little anomalies which the council looked into, however our association has made this projection when we are making our public hearing, that for the board of NCS a freight forwarder must be represented and that the person must be from CRFFN, so for mr President not to sign this bill into an act is a welcome development and in the interest of the nation, if it has been signed it would have negate a lot of acts.
“Look at the issue of NHS which is about the issue of remuneration, salaries and pensions, you know we have pension scheme and pension act, this bill did not put into cognizance that there is a particular act that has actually dealt with the pension of civil servants, and if signed Nigeria could be in a state of confusion these are the things why Mr President rejected it.
“So on behalf of freight forwarders we want to appreciate President Buhari for throwing away the bill that it should be looked into and that various clauses mentioned be amended,” he said.