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Terminal Operators in a Fix over FG Insistence on Dollar Payment

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Seaport
  • Terminal Operators in a Fix over FG Insistence on Dollar Payment

Concessionaires in the nation’s seaports are in a fix over the Federal Government insistence that they should pay their outstanding dues and levies in the United States of America (USA) dollars.

The concessionaires took over the day-to-day running of the nation’s seaports following the conclusion of the port reforms during Chief Olusegun Obasanjo’s administration. The exercise which was supervised by the Bureau for Public Enterprises (BPE) divested the management of Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) from cargo handling.

Impeccable sources close to Dicharima House, the corporate headquarters of the Federal Ministry of Transportation, Abuja said that when the government wanted the payment in USA dollar not a few of the terminal operators expected a change of heart going by the intensive lobby within and outside the corridors of power to make the top echelon of the Buhari administration to see reason with the terminal operators.

The insistence of the NPA Managing Director, Ms. Hadiza Bala Usman that the terminal operators must pay in USA dollar in her recent maiden visit to Eastern ports official has dashed the hope of the concessionaires.

Besides the insistence on USA dollar payment, the Federal Government policies since the emergence of the President Mohammadu Buhari’s administration nearly two years ago have further put the concessionaires under pressure.

The unfavourable policies of the Federal Government which have increased the woes of the concessionaires include the auto policy, rice policy, fish quota system and the forex policy of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) which place import restrictions on less than 41 items.

It is on record that more than half of these items are high on the number commodities most importers prefer to import into the country in order to make brisk business especially in the Yuletide.

Described as anti-maritime industry, the policies which have impacted negatively on the shipping sector of the economy long before the recession set into the Nigerian economy have helped in no small measures to worsen the woes of the concessionaires.

As if these are not bad enough, the terminal operators are also grappling with other challenges plaguing the efficient operations of the ports. These include the poor port access roads, significant reduction in cargo and vessel traffic into Nigerian ports and inconsistencies in policies formulation and implementation.

The umbrella body of concessionaires in the country said this much when the Chairman of the Sea Terminal Operators of Nigeria (STOAN), Princess Victoria Haastrup spoke recently in Lagos.

Haastrup who is also the Executive Vice Chairman of ENL Consortium Limited, operator of Terminal C in the Lagos Port Complex (LPC), Apapa stated that is a very challenging period for the maritime industry.

Her words: “As you know, the volume of activities in the ports has reduced and it has been a very drastic reduction. For example in my company we have a cargo downturn of a least 57 per cent as at two weeks ago. When you compare today with this period two years ago we have a reduction in cargo output of a minimum of 57 per cent which means we are operating 43 per cent capacity. This month is even worse. Now we do only six or seven ships from for example 30. That is a huge challenge. The problem has also affected the container operators in the ports. Theirs may not be as bad as ours but they are also experiencing a downturn in their operational activities particularly as it relates to cargo troop out. Why is it like that? It is because of the inconsistencies in government policies. What we need now is a consistent policy regime to help the economy to grow.

“This will create confidence in the mind of business owners and importers of cargo. But a situation where you are not sure whether the policy may change or not you cannot do anything reasonable. Policies keep changing; government must look into that area. For example, the policies on the ban of import 42 items. They should also look at the foreign exchange policy. The present floating system is not helping matters and it is not good for the economy. Why? Because it is floating so high that it is becoming unaffordable to the ordinary Nigerian. It is a good thing to allow the naira to find its true value but the way it is been done now is making the dollar to skyrocket. Government need to look at these policies in the way that it should not go above certain level”.

Is the Buhari administration listening? A stitch in time, they say, saves nine.

CEO/Founder Investors King Ltd, a foreign exchange research analyst, contributing author on New York-based Talk Markets and Investing.com, with over a decade experience in the global financial markets.

Government

COVID-19 Vaccine: African Export-Import Bank (Afrexim) to Purchase 270 Million Doses for Nigeria, Other African Nations

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African Export-Import Bank (Afrexim) Approves $2 Billion for the Purchase of 270 million Doses for African Nations

African Export-Import Bank (Afrexim) said it has approved $2 billion for the purchase of 270 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines for African nations, including Nigeria.

Prof. Benedict Oramah, the President of the Bank, disclosed this at a virtual Africa Soft Power Series held on Tuesday.

He, however, stated that the lender is looking to raise more funds for the COVID-19 vaccines’ acquisition.

He said: “The African Union knows that unless you put the virus away, your economy can’t come back. If Africa didn’t do anything, it would become a COVID-19 continent when other parts of the world have already moved on.
“Recall that it took seven years during the heat of HIV for them to come to Africa after 12 million people had died.

“With the assistance of the AU, we were able to get 270 million vaccines and financing need of about $2 billion. Afreximbank then went ahead to secure the $2 billion. But that money for the 270 million doses could only add 15 per cent to the 20 per cent that Covax was bringing.

He added that this is not the time to wait for handouts or free vaccines as other countries will naturally sort themselves out before African nations.

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China Calls for Better China-U.S. Relations

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China Calls for China-U.S. Relations

Senior Chinese diplomat Wang Yi said on Monday the United States and China could work together on issues like climate change and the coronavirus pandemic if they repaired their damaged bilateral relationship.

Wang, a Chinese state councillor and foreign minister, said Beijing stood ready to reopen constructive dialogue with Washington after relations between the two countries sank to their lowest in decades under former president Donald Trump.

Wang called on Washington to remove tariffs on Chinese goods and abandon what he said was an irrational suppression of the Chinese tech sector, steps he said would create the “necessary conditions” for cooperation.

Before Wang spoke at a forum sponsored by the foreign ministry, officials played footage of the “ping-pong diplomacy” of 1972 when an exchange of table tennis players cleared the way for then U.S. President Richard Nixon to visit China.

Wang, a Chinese state councillor and foreign minister, said Beijing stood ready to reopen constructive dialogue with Washington after relations between the two countries sank to their lowest in decades under former president Donald Trump.

Wang called on Washington to remove tariffs on Chinese goods and abandon what he said was an irrational suppression of the Chinese tech sector, steps he said would create the “necessary conditions” for cooperation.

Before Wang spoke at a forum sponsored by the foreign ministry, officials played footage of the “ping-pong diplomacy” of 1972 when an exchange of table tennis players cleared the way for then U.S. President Richard Nixon to visit China.

Wang urged Washington to respect China’s core interests, stop “smearing” the ruling Communist Party, stop interfering in Beijing’s internal affairs and stop “conniving” with separatist forces for Taiwan’s independence.

“Over the past few years, the United States basically cut off bilateral dialogue at all levels,” Wang said in prepared remarks translated into English.

“We stand ready to have candid communication with the U.S. side, and engage in dialogues aimed at solving problems.”

Wang pointed to a recent call between Chinese President Xi Jinping and U.S. President Joe Biden as a positive step.

Washington and Beijing have clashed on multiple fronts including trade, accusations of human rights crimes against the Uighur Muslim minorities in the Xinjiang region and Beijing’s territorial claims in the resources-rich South China Sea.

The Biden administration has, however, signalled it will maintain pressure on Beijing. Biden has voiced concern about Beijing’s “coercive and unfair” trade practices and endorsed of a Trump administration determination that China has committed genocide in Xinjiang.

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U.S. Supreme Court Allows Release of Trump Tax Returns

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President Trump Signs Executive Order In Oval Office Of The White House

U.S. Supreme Court Allows Release of Trump Tax Returns

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday paved the way for a New York City prosecutor to obtain former President Donald Trump’s tax returns and other financial records as part of a criminal investigation, a blow to his quest to conceal details of his finances.

The justices without comment rebuffed Trump’s request to put on hold an Oct. 7 lower court ruling directing the former Republican president’s longtime accounting firm, Mazars USA, to comply with a subpoena to turn over the materials to a grand jury convened by Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance, a Democrat.

“The work continues,” Vance said in a statement issued after the court’s action.

Vance had previously said in a letter to Trump’s lawyers that his office would be free to immediately enforce the subpoena if the justices rejected Trump’s request.

A lawyer for Trump did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The Supreme Court, which has a 6-3 conservative majority included three Trump appointees, had already ruled once in the dispute, last July rejecting Trump’s broad argument that he was immune from criminal probes as a sitting president.

Unlike all other recent U.S. presidents, Trump refused during his four years in office to make his tax returns public. The data could provide details on his wealth and the activities of his family real-estate company, the Trump Organization.

Trump, who left office on Jan. 20 after being defeated in his Nov. 3 re-election bid by Democrat Joe Biden, continues to face an array of legal issues concerning his personal and business conduct.

Vance issued a subpoena to Mazars in August 2019 seeking Trump’s corporate and personal tax returns from 2011 to 2018. Trump’s lawyers sued to block the subpoena, arguing that as a sitting president, Trump had absolute immunity from state criminal investigations.

The Supreme Court in its July ruling rejected those arguments but said Trump could raise other objections to the subpoena. Trump’s lawyers then argued before lower courts that the subpoena was overly broad and amounted to political harassment, but U.S. District Judge Victor Marrero in August and the New York-based 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in October rejected those claims.

Vance’s investigation, which began more than two years ago, had focused on hush money payments that the president’s former lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen made before the 2016 election to two women – adult-film actress Stormy Daniels and former Playboy model Karen McDougal – who said they had sexual encounters with Trump.

In recent court filings, Vance has suggested that the probe is now broader and could focus on potential bank, tax and insurance fraud, as well as falsification of business records.

In separate litigation, the Democratic-led U.S. House of Representatives was seeking to subpoena similar records. The Supreme Court in July sent that matter back to lower courts for further review.

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