The Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) and the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) have agreed to join forces to close loopholes in the Temporary Importation Permit (TIP) system that importers often exploit to avoid levies due to the government.
Director-General of NIMASA, Dr. Bashir Jamoh, stated this in Abuja when he visited the Comptroller-General of Customs, Col. Hameed Ali (retd).
Jamoh said the temporary import permit issue was one of the biggest challenges faced by the maritime sector, stressing that it has denied the Federal Government huge revenue.
Ali spoke in a similar vein, said it was important for the NCS and NIMASA to develop a common platform for dealing with problems arising from the TIP. Jamoh stated, “The biggest issue we have is the abuse of Temporary Importation Permit. What we have observed is that people capitalise on the good gesture of government policies to abuse the process.
“Those that are benefiting from this temporary importation bring in their own ships and after one year they will take it back to their country and import with a different name. They do it constantly and this is to the disadvantage of Nigerian shipowners.”
He said Cabotage trade, which falls within the core functions of NIMASA, was suffering as a result of the abuse of the TIP, saying it is indigenous shipowners that usually bear the brunt.
Jamoh observed that the Merchant Shipping Act provided that vessels used in importation should be registered with the Nigeria Ship Registry, but in most cases, the importers don’t.
He called for greater synergy between NIMASA and NCS, and indeed, all agencies in the maritime sector, to address pertinent issues and improve the sector.
He said it was in pursuit of such cooperation that a meetings of heads of maritime agencies was recently initiated. The meeting debuted on July 7 in Lagos at the Nigerian Shippers Council (NSC). It had in attendance Executive Secretary of NSC, Mr. Hassan Bello; Managing Director of Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Hadiza Bala Usman; Managing Director, National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA), Dr. George Moghalu; and Rector, Maritime Academy of Nigeria, Oron, Commodore Emmanuel Effedua (rtd).
Jamoh said the essence of the meeting was to identify and speedily tackle challenges faced by operators in the sector without the impediments of official bureaucracy. He invited the NCS Comptroller-General to join the heads of maritime agencies meeting.