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Shipping Firms Plan N30b Refund to Importers, Agents

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  • Shipping Firms Plan N30b Refund to Importers, Agents

On-going negotiations between shipping companies and the Nigerian Shippers Council (NSC) will lead to refund of over N30 billion to importers and clearing agents, it was learnt at the weekend.

The negotiation, it was gathered, was based on the fear that the Supreme Court may rule in favour of the Council in a suit challenging the alleged imposition of arbitrary charges on users of shipping services.

No less than N600 billion may be refunded by the shipping firms, being accumulated levies collected over the years.

The Court of Appeal and the Federal High Court had earlier given judgment in favour of the Nigerian Shippers’ Council and slammed a N1 trillion fine on the shipping companies and terminal operators.

Speaking in relation to the meetings, the Vice President, Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA), Dr Kayode Farinto, said the Executive Secretary of the Council, Mr. Hassan Bello, remains committed to protecting the interests of users of shipping services in Nigeria. On the allegations of unauthorised levies imposed on shippers by terminal operators and ship owners, Farinto said the justice system in the country works slowly, but added that the shipping companies are making moves to shield themselves from the sledge hammer of the law. He expressed confidence that the negotiation will lead to resolution of issues.

Although the ANLCA chief lamented the slow dispensation of justice in Nigeria, he said the delay was responsible for the inability of the NSC to speedily resolve issues bordering on reversal of illegally collected charges.

Farinto reiterated that the court of first jurisdiction had awarded a charge of N1 trillion against the operators and shipping companies on the excess charges collected from importers and agents within the period they increased terminal charges and shipping fees without due consultation with relevant government agencies.

“The justice system is very slow. The court had determined at the first instance that the illegal levies amounted to over N1 trillion and money was to be paid to the system before it went to the Court of Appeal. While the case is still pending, the amount of the illegal levies collected so far is in the region of N7 trillion.”

Shippers Council, he said, was not the one that went to court; they took the agency to court. “I do agree that the amount to be paid by the shipping companies can be negotiated through consultation and dialogue because there is no way you can unilaterally or arbitrarily impose charges and say this is my charge, it must be negotiated and approved by the agencies representing the government at ports,” he added.

A senior official of NSC, who craved anonymity, said the council was open to out-of-court settlement, but added that the most important thing is for the stakeholders to be carried along and the need for the shipping companies to obey the laws of the country.

A Federal High Court sitting in Lagos had in a 2014 judgment declared that the Shipping Line Agency Charges (SLAC) levied and collected from Nigerian shippers by shipping companies since 2006 was illegal.

“The Court, therefore, ruled that the shipping companies should account and pay to Nigerian shippers all monies or fees charged and collected since 2006 as SLAC from shippers or users of shipping/port related services from 2006 to date, which ran into several billions of naira.

“In a landmark judgment by Justice Buba Ibrahim, sitting at the Federal High Court, Lagos, in Suit No. FHC/CS/1646/2014 – Alraine Shipping Agencies (Nig) Ltd & ORS Vs Nigerian Shippers’ Council and Suit No. FHC/CS/1704/2014 – Apapa Bulk Terminal Ltd & ORS Vs Nigerian Shippers’ Council, he affirmed the appointment of the Nigerian Shippers Council as the Economic Regulator of the ports and dismissed the claims of shipping companies and the terminal operators.

“Pursuant to the appointment of the Nigerian Shippers Council as the Economic Regulator Government, in line with the executive powers of the president in February 2014, the NSC issued notices to both the shipping companies and terminal operators to reverse all illegal charges levied on Nigerian shippers,” the official said.

Dissatisfied, the shipping companies and the concessionaires, he said, filed an appeal against the council at the Appeal Court in Lagos in 2015.

“The Court of Appeal also dismissed the case brought against the Nigerian Shippers Council by the Seaport Terminal Operators Association of Nigeria concerning shipping charges hence, the current out-of-court negotiation by the shipping companies with NSC.

“They have over N600 billion to refund, but the amount they have to pay may not be more than N300 billon or more,” the NSC official said.

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.

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Nigerian Brand, JR Farms Acquires 11% Stake in Rwandan Firm

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Nigerian Brand, JR Farms Acquires 11% Stake in Rwandan Firm

JR Firms, an agribusiness firm with headquarters in Nigeria, has announced partnership with Sanit Wing Rwanda through the acquisition of 11 per cent stake in the company.

The CEO of the company, Mr Rotimi Olawale, explained in a statement that the partnership was in furtherance of its goals to ensure food security, create decent jobs and raise the next generation of agrarian leaders in Africa.

The stake was acquired through Green Agribusiness Fund, an initiative of JR Farms designed to invest in youth-led agribusinesses across Africa.

Sanit Wing Rwanda is an agro-processing company that processes avocado oil and cosmetics that are natural, quality, affordable, reliable and viable.

The vision of the company is to become the leading producers of best quality avocado and avocado by-products in Africa by creating value across the avocado value chain.

With focus on bringing together over 20,000 professional Avocado farmers on board and planting of three million avocado trees by 2025 through contract farming, the company currently works with One Acre Fund in supply of avocado to its processing facility.

The products of the company which include avocado oil, skin care (SANTAVO), hair cream and soap are being sold locally and exported to regional market in Kenya.

With the new partnership with JR Farms- the products of the company will enjoy more access to markets focusing on Africa and the European Union by leveraging on partnerships and trade windows available.

Aside funding, the partnership comes with project support in areas of market exposure, capacity building, exposure and other thematic support to grow the business over the next four years.

JR Farms has agribusiness operations in Nigeria, Rwanda, United States and Zambia respectively.

In Nigeria, the company deals in cassava value chain processing cassava to national staple “garri” which is consumed by over 80 million Nigerians on daily basis, while in Rwanda, it works in the coffee value chain with over 4,000 coffee farmers spread across the East Central African country.

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Shut Down Depots Selling Petrol Above Approved Price – Marketers

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Shut Down Depots Selling Petrol Above Approved Price – Marketers

The Federal Government should close down depots that are selling petrol above the approved price, oil marketers said on Thursday.

National President, Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria, Sanusi Fari, said the sale of petrol above government approved price by depot owners would soon lead to a hike in the commodity’s pump price.

Fari told journalists in Abuja that the government through its agencies such as the Department of State Services and the Department of Petroleum Resources should curb the development to avoid crisis in the downstream oil sector.

He said some private depot owners were selling at N165 per litre to independent marketers, way above the government stipulated price of N148 per litre.

Fari said, “Our challenge is the inconsistency in the pricing of petrol. Up till a week ago, government was still insisting that the February price for petrol remained unchanged.

“And most of the private depot owners are selling above the government stipulated price. As at today ( February 25, 2021) private depot owners are selling at N165 per litre to independent marketers.”

He added, “In the last six years, only NNPC imports refined products into this country and these tank farms buy their products from NNPC under a controlled price.

“This has affected our businesses seriously because government is insisting that we sell at the rate of N165, which is not going to work.”

The IPMAN president said filling station owners buy the product at N165 per litre from the private depots and incur other expenses such as transportation, rent, etc.

“So government cannot expect us to sell less than what we buy,” he said.

Fari added, “This is why we are calling on government and agencies that are saddled with the responsibility to control petrol pricing to urgently clamp down on depots that are selling above the stipulated price.”

The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, the country’s sole importer of patrol, recently stated that it never hiked the cost of petrol to depots.

It also enjoined the depot owners to sell the product at the approved rate and called on the DPR to enforce the stipulated price across the depots.

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Nigeria Will Benefit Less From African Trade Deal – NESG

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Nigeria Will Benefit Less From African Trade Deal – NESG

Nigeria and other resource-based countries will benefit less from the African Continental Free Trade Area than economies that are more diversified, the Nigerian Economic Summit Group has said.

The NESG, a private sector-led think-tank, said in its 2021 Macroeconomic Outlook that Nigeria could reap more gains through export diversification away from crude oil.

It said trade in Africa remained dominated by raw materials and less processed products, adding that on average, minerals and agriculture accounted for 44 per cent and 16 per cent of intra-African trade respectively between 2007 and 2017.

The NESG said, “Evidence has shown that African economies that are more diversified and have improved transport infrastructure, would benefit more from the trade pact than others that are resource-based and agricultural dependent.

“Putting this in context, South Africa currently accounts for 40 per cent of intra-African manufacturing imports. On the other hand, resource-based countries, such as, Algeria, Egypt and Nigeria – which collectively account for approximately 50 per cent of Africa’s GDP – contribute only 11 per cent to intra-African trade.”

“Another bone of contention is the issue of ‘rules of origin’, which constitutes a significant risk factor. This implies that protectionism practices by some countries could constitute a setback for the establishment of the ambitious single market for Africa. But there are several reasons to be optimistic,” it added.

The group said the World Bank estimates revealed that the AfCFTA would promote manufacturing exports over natural resources, agricultural and services exports, and that manufacturing exports would account for one-third of the projected total exports of $2.5tn by 2035.

It said, “Nigeria could reap more gains through export diversification away from crude oil, as manufacturing exports currently account for an average of nine per cent of the country’s total exports.

“This suggests that efforts should be directed at strengthening domestic value chains, particularly the agro-allied industrial base.

“To achieve this, there is a need to attract private capital, most especially, FDI, that would allow for knowledge and technological transfers.”

According to the NESG, for Nigeria to maximally benefit from the trade deal, there is an urgent need to also address transport infrastructure bottlenecks and provide improved logistics.

It said, “Finding a lasting solution to the Apapa gridlock by creating similar ports in other regions of the country, so as to ensure speedy clearance of consignments needs to be prioritised.

“Nigeria also needs to set standards for locally-made goods to enhance their attractiveness in the regional market.

“The Nigerian government as a matter of urgency needs to operate an efficient and corruption-free land border system, so as to guide against the importation of low-cost sub-standard products into the country.

“It is only when these and many more reforms are implemented that Nigeria can begin to reap the benefits of the trade deal.”

The group noted that owing to the outbreak of COVID-19, the implementation of the AfCFTA was postponed from July 1, 2020 to January 1, 2021.

It said, “The key goal of the free trade pact is to expand the volume of intra-African trade, which stood at 16 per cent in 2018 .“Till date, 36 countries, including Nigeria, have ratified the agreement. The trade deal is expected to create a single market with a combined GDP of $2.5tn and total population or market size of 1.2 billion.”

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