Shippers Association Lagos State (SALS) has called on the Federal Government to declare a state of emergency on the Nigerian ports over increasing cost of doing business, which negate the Ease of Doing business in the country. The shippers said the recent hike in exchange rate to N361 to a US dollar by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) for clearing cargo has no bearing and described it and the recent 7.5 per cent VAT for maritime industry as deadly. Speaking with Daily Sun, the President of SALS, Rev Jonathan Nicol, said the recent increase in exchange rate for clearing cargo violates economic decency having been increased twice within the space of six months.
According to him, as a result of the increase in exchange rate, all the goods in the ports now will attract the new rate, which would induce shortage of cargo as time goes on thus reflecting on cargo throughput.
He explained that industries, importers, shippers and exporters will have to source for additional funds to clear their cargo trapped in the ports due to the coronavirus pandemic under the one month stay at home order of the Federal Government.
He added: “Infact, the government is telling us that it is in panic due to global economic downturn. It is not the fault of the shippers for the collapse of economic and financial policies of government. The new rate does not reflect on Form Ms already approved by the CBN. It is the approved rate on the Form M that is used to procure foreign exchange for each shipment and also effect transfers to suppliers.
“We have now reached a stage for the declaration of emergency in the port environment. Shippers Associations in Nigeria is awed by the actions of government in this respect hence the need to declare state of emergency at the ports.” He said the excess fund being raised through Customs has no bearing. It is believed, maybe, that the excess fund is sent to an escrow account domiciled in the CBN for no useful purposes. He hinted that it is expected that the CBN should have supported entrepreneurs through flexible bank loans with low interest rates since the maritime sector is the only inlet available to generate revenue at the moment.