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Customs, SON stifling trade environment, says Shippers Association

     …Kicks against POF,
Rev. Jonathan Nicol, President of SALS

The Shippers Association of Lagos State
(SALS) has condemned the operations of the Nigeria Customs Strike Force, saying
it negates the name of the Nigeria Customs Service and gradually making it a
military outfit in the guise of checkmating smuggling.

President of the SALS, Rev. Jonathan
Nicol, also condemned the
modus operandi
of the Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON), saying it had resorted to
making the environment of trade very unfriendly.
He said: “Nigeria is not at war. Can
anyone explain why our trade environment is littered with gun-carrying
Government Agencies in a civilized society? The Nigerian Senate should save the
lives and property of investors in our country.
“The duties of the Nigeria Customs
Service is to collect revenue, and the public knows that Importers are doing
just that. Is the Nigeria Customs Service and Standards Organisation of
Nigeria constitutionally empowered to raise an army of destruction in the name
of revenue collection? 
“We give so much as traders and get
little or nothing from Government. It was the passion of simplifying trade that
prompted Government to appoint an economic regulator for smooth and
equitable pricing of doing business in Nigeria.”
Nicol said that the cost of doing
business was constantly unstable as he kicked against the recent approval of
the Practitioners Operating Fees (POF), saying “this has triggered another
fever in the sector.”    
He noted that the collection of the
POF amounted to double dues/ fees collection as all professional bodies collect
annual operational fees paid by their members to their various associations.
He said: “For instance, Manufacturers
Association’s members pay annual dues to MAN; Medical Associations and others
do same. #1000 × 1,000,000 containers is #1,000,000,000.00, payable by
Shippers.  In other words, the recipients gets paid twice for 1 job.
Contract clearing jobs. If this is the case, Government was not properly informed
that the Freight Agents were paid fully for contract of clearing jobs.

“We cannot fathom where this is
practised anywhere other than Nigeria.  Business will gradually fizzle out
of the economic environment of our beloved country to other climes where
trade tariffs are equitable.
“The same Government is making it
practically impossible for the actualization of the National Transport
Commission in Nigeria.  This is a dis-service to Nigerians.”
The SALS President also bemoaned the
dilapidated port access roads at the Tin-Can Island area, the poor drainage
system within and around the Ports, and the lack of sewage facility, in spite
of taxes being collected.
Nicol, therefore, charged the
government to address all issues affecting the port business as had been raised
and require attention.
“Businesses are closing down every
day. Multinationals are taking over our businesses in the guise of modern
trends. How can an entire “economic matter” be treated with
“All economic issues ought to be
treated with accelerated approach to sustain the confidence of honest
investors.  Freight business is dying slowly with the song “killing
me softly with massive corruption.”
He also expressed concern against the
Port Landing Fees as an unnecessary additional cost of doing business.

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