- Nigeria Loses N200b Yearly to Diversion of Cargoes
The Federal Government may be losing about N200 billion yearly to diversion of automobile imports to the ports in neighboring countries, particularly the Port of Cotonou in Republic of Benin.
The amount, according to stakeholders represents the value of tariff that should have accrued to government through the Nigerian Customs Service (NCS), if the vehicles were imported through Nigerian ports.
The NCS is responsible for collecting revenues for government through duties payable as well as guarding against smuggling activities.
More Nigerian importers are attracted to the Port of Cotonou because of lower customs duty on vehicles and other imports.
As a result, the Managing Director of PTML Terminal, Ascanio Russo, expressed support for the ban on importation of vehicles through the land borders imposed recently by the Federal Government.
PTML is the leading dedicated Roll-On-Roll-Off (RORO) terminal in Nigeria, handling the largest volume of vehicles imported into the country.
Russo said the company’s operations were, however, negatively affected by the astronomical hike in the import duties of vehicles, leading to a loss of more than 80 per cent of its cargo volume.
The hike in vehicles import duty from 10 per cent to 35 per cent and the imposition of an additional 35 per cent surcharge under the administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan, led to the diversion of Nigerian-bound vehicles to ports of neighbouring countries and increased smuggling activities.
The PTML boss, in a statement said: “We fully support this ban, which we believe is going to halt the huge import of vehicles for the Nigerian market through the ports of neighbouring countries and the loss of revenues by the Federal Government, the Nigeria Customs Service and private operators.
“We are confident and hopeful that the government may want to go a step further and review downward the level of duties applied on used vehicles to make them affordable for the Nigerian people.”
The Chairman, Seaport Terminal Operators Association of Nigeria (STAON), Princess Vicky Haastrup, had said, “Since the high tariff was introduced, importers have resorted to landing their vehicles at the ports of neighbouring countries and smuggling them into Nigeria without paying appropriate duties to government. This amounted to huge revenue loss to Customs.
“The policy also led to loss of more 5,000 direct and indirect jobs at the affected port.”
The Managing Director, Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Hadiza Bala Usman, said the Nigerian ports are capable of taking the import traffic that will emerge as a result of the ban.
She said: “We are very ready to have seamless operations of increased traffic. Some of the traffic that we are seeing dwindling was the function of some of the government policies on importation of new cars. With this ban through the land borders, we will see an increase ports activities and we have put in place mechanisms to ensure that the additional traffic will not form any bottleneck. We always had that capacity, only that it was not utilised, but now that we hopefully will get more traffic due to the ban, we will just up our ante. The terminal operators are keen and they are ready to take up the traffic on vehicle importation through the ports.”
Several other maritime industry stakeholders had, at various times, called on the government to reduce the import duty on vehicles to stem the tide of smuggling and revive operations at Nigeria’s RORO ports, which had suffered the most from the hike in vehicles import duty.
COVID-19 Plunges Nigeria’s Oil Revenue by 41% in the First Nine Months of 2020
Nigeria’s oil revenue declined by 41.44 percent in the first nine months of 2020 to $2.033 billion, according to the latest data from the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC.
This represents a decline of 41.44 percent from $3.47 billion filed in the same period of 2019 when there was no COVID-19.
In the September 2020 edition of NNPC’s Monthly Financial and Operations Report (MFOR), revenue from oil and gas rose by 16 percent to $120.49 million in the month of September, a 66 percent or $234.81 million drop from $355.3 million posted in the same month of 2019.
The global lockdowns caused by the COVID-19 pandemic plunged Nigeria’s crude oil sales and global demand for the commodity. This was further compounded by Nigeria’s high cost of production compared to Saudi Arabia, Russia and others that were offering discounts to boost sales during one of the most challenging periods in human history.
Experts like Prof. Yinka Omorogbe, President of Nigeria Association of Energy Economics, NAEE, were not surprised with the drop in earnings given the effect of COVID-19 on the world’s economy.
She, however, called for the revamp of the nation’s petroleum sector laws and diversification of the economy away from oil revenue dependence. She said “Covid-19 made 2020 a very hot year and it battered the oil industry internationally and we are not an exception; so we could not have been unaffected”.
She also said the effect of the fall “is definitely a wake-up call; we have to diversify, strengthen our other resources and capabilities”.
Omorogbe, a former NNPC Board Secretary, urged the government and the operators in the sector to look inward and think strategically, stating: “think medium term, think of where they want to be and the government, above all, must think of how best we can utilize our resources, so that we can achieve our objectives once we know and define them.
“It is a clear wake-up call, if not we will just sit here and find that we have become one of the poorest nations in the world”, she noted.
Crude Oil, Other Commodities Closing Price for Monday
Brent crude oil, Nigeria’s crude oil benchmark, gained 47 cents to $55.88 per barrel on Monday, while the US crude oil expanded by 50 cents to $52.77 per barrel.
Gold for February delivery fell $1 to $1,855.20 an ounce. Silver for March delivery fell 7 cents to $25.48 an ounce and March copper was little changed at $3.63 a pound.
The dollar fell to 103.80 Japanese yen from 103.83 yen. The euro fell to $1.2139 from $1.2167.
Wholesale gasoline for February delivery rose 1 cent to $1.56 a gallon. February heating oil rose 2 cents to $1.59 a gallon. February natural gas rose 16 cents to $2.60 per 1,000 cubic feet.
Gold Gained Ahead of Joe Biden Inauguration 2021
Gold price rose from one and a half month low on Tuesday ahead of President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration on Wednesday.
The precious metal, largely regarded as a haven asset by investors, edged up by 0.2 percent to $1,844.52 per ounce on Tuesday, up from $1,802.61 on Monday.
He said, “The key factor appears to be the (U.S.) currency.”
As expected, a change in administration comes with the change in economic policies, especially taking into consideration the peculiarities of the present situation. In fact, even though Biden, Janet Yellen and the rest of the new cabinet are expected to go all out on additional stimulus with the support of Democrats controlled Houses, economic uncertainties with rising COVID-19 cases and slow vaccine distribution remained a huge concern.
Also, the effectiveness of the vaccines can not be ascertained until wider rollout.
Still, which policy would be halted or sustained by the incoming administration remained a concern that has forced many investors to once again flee other assets for Gold ahead of tomorrow’s inauguration.
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