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Agents Battle Customs over Multiple Checks in Cargo Clearance

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Nigeria Customs Service
  • Agents Battle Customs over Multiple Checks in Cargo Clearance

There is a growing agitation among freight forwarders plying their trade at the Lagos ports over what they described as the proliferation of Customs units which they alleged are being used for extortions and to encumber the clearance procedures at the ports.

The concerned agents, who warned that their patience was running out over what they claimed was the mindless extortions they are being subjected to, alleged that the multiple Customs units not only complicate and elongate the clearing process, but have also added to the cost of doing business at the ports.

Speaking on behalf of agents, Vice-President, Western Zone of National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF), Tanko Ibrahim, lamented that apart from the resident Customs officers and Federal Operations Unit (FOU), the Customs authority has created what it called Strike Force team and Customs Police.

According to him, “We have never witnessed what is happening now in customs clearing process. Apart from the traditional resident Customs officers and the FOU, which are involved in cargo clearing process, there are other units newly created by Customs hierarchy to muddle up cargo clearance procedures.

“They are CG strike force and Customs Police. All these units are doing the same thing. They all want to be part of cargo clearing process. When your goods have been cleared by the resident Customs officers at the ports, these other units, which are alien to the cargo clearance procedures, will delay your goods through issuance of indiscriminate alerts and inordinate engagement in arrest of containers. This frustrates quick clearance of goods, make nonsense of ease of doing business initiative of the Federal Government and add to the cost of transactions.”

However, the Customs authority said any freight forwarder who does not have anything to hide should not be agitated over the new structure.

The Public Relations Officer of the Nigerian Customs Service (NCS), Joseph Attah, said it was not within the jurisdiction of any freight forwarder to question the structure in the Customs or how Customs should do its duty.

He explained that the strike force team is not involved in cargo clearing process but to act on information to impound containers that are enmeshed in infractions in clearance procedures.

Attah, further disclosed that the Customs Police is a new creation meant to instil discipline in the service.
“The Customs Police is just like military police. It was created to restore discipline within the service. They can invite, arrest and detain Customs officers based on any disciplinary breach.

“They do not interfere in clearance procedures but unless there is a reported case and need for their intervention in a case that involves agents and customs officers. Their primary duty is to restore discipline in the service,” he insisted.

He said the strike force is known to Customs operations and whoever states otherwise is being mischievous.
“The authority created three layers of security to check abuses of clearing process and plug revenue leakages. The first layer is the resident Customs, the second layer is the FOU while the strike force is the third layer.

“If you beat one, you can’t beat the others. There is no way you can beat all the three layers,” Attah declared.

He said rather than condemn the structure and engage in generic accusation of all the units, the agitating agents should identify any officer in any of these units who is involved in any form of malpractices for appropriate sanction.

However, Tanko insisted that these units do not confine themselves to their so called primary duties, but rather want to be involved in examination of cargo.

“Whether your container is involved in any infraction or not, the strike force will arrest your container and knowing what you will face if the container is taken to the Customs training school where they are based, agents quickly part with money to avoid delay,” he alleged.

According to him, if a container is taken to their office, the officers will subject the owner to inhuman treatment before they ask him to pay for unloading the contents for physical examination and loading, even when nothing incriminating is found.

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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FG to Ease Economic Burden of 1.7m Small Businesses, Individuals

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FG to Provide Financial Support for 1.7m Small Businesses and Individuals

The Federal Government has said it will provide financial support for 1.7 million businesses and individuals in the next three months.

The Minister of State for Industry, Trade and Investment, Ambassador Mariam Katagum, disclosed this at the virtual commissioning of the Fashion Cluster Shared Facility for Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) held at Eko Fashion Hub, in Lagos.

According to the minister, the initiative was borne out of the government’s continued effort at cushion the negative impact of COVID-19 on the people by protecting present jobs while simultaneously creating new opportunities.

She further explained that the administration of President Buhari, through the Economic Sustainability Committee, had launched specific programmes to cushion the negative effect of COVID-19 on small businesses across the country.

She said, “The Federal Government is fully committed to empowering Nigerians; more so in the face of the COVID-19 Pandemic. In this regard, the government, through the Economic Sustainability Committee had announced specific programmes aimed at cushioning the impact of COVID-19 on MSME businesses.

“These programmes include among others, the N75 billion MSME Survival Fund and Guaranteed Off-take Schemes of which I have the honour to chair the Steering Committee for the effective implementation of the projects.

“The project, which will run for an initial period of three months, is targeting 1.7million entities and individuals and has provisions for 45 per cent female-owned businesses and five per cent for those with special needs. The registration portal for the schemes is set to open on Monday 21st September 2020 and I urge you all to take full advantage of the schemes.”

Katagum explained that the Nigerian Economic Sustainability Plan, which was developed by a committee headed by the Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo, was introduced to combat the health and economic challenges brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.

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OPay, WorldRemit Partner to Deepen Mobile Money Transfer Service

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Nigerian financial service technology company, OPay has announced a partnership with leading global digital payments platform WorldRemit, to offer international money transfers directly into OPay mobile wallets in Nigeria.

The partnership between OPay and WorldRemit will provide Nigerians with a fast, easy and more affordable way to receive money from over 50 countries including the United States, United Kingdom and Canada directly into their mobile phones.

Nigerian financial service technology company, OPay has announced a partnership with leading global digital payments platform WorldRemit, to offer international money transfers directly into OPay mobile wallets in Nigeria.

The partnership between OPay and WorldRemit will provide Nigerians with a fast, easy and more affordable way to receive money from over 50 countries including the United States, United Kingdom and Canada directly into their mobile phones.

OPay also offers an exciting opportunity for customers to save and invest their money in its FlexiFixed service, which offers up to 12% returns per annum.

The service, which launches in September 2020, is immediately available to all OPay customers on KYC 2 level and above. New customers can download the Opay app from the Google Playstore or iOS store and upgrade to KYC level 2 to instantly access the service.

“This partnership ensures that customers can continue to make affordable money transfers to their family and friends in the comfort of their homes. Together WorldRemit and OPay are disrupting traditional money transfer methods by delivering services that customers can access 24/7 via smartphones at their convenience.

“I’m pleased to share that we’ve reduced prices in 48 corridors and passed the savings onto our customers. With communities across the world having to change their lifestyles due to the disruption caused by Covid-19, we’re proud to play our part in making sure our customers can continue to support their family and friends throughout this challenging time,” says Gbenga Okejimi, Country Manager for Nigeria & Ghana at WorldRemit.

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COVID-19: Africa’s Hospitality Industry Loses $50 Billion

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Hospitality Industry In Africa Loses $50 Billion to COVID-19

Global health pandemic has erased more than $50 billion in revenue from the hotel and tourism industry in Africa, according to a recent report.

African Union stated this in a report titled “Impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) on the African economy”.

However, on Thursday Transcorp Hotel admitted suffering unprecedented losses and therefore has decided to let go 40 percent of its present staff as it moves to restructure and reposition the company for the new normal.

To this end, the hotelier is diversifying its portfolio and reducing its workforce as part of its cost management initiatives,” Transcorp Hotels Plc Managing Director Mrs. Dupe Olusola, said at a news conference yesterday.

She went on: “The impact of COVID-19 on the business is like nothing the company has ever witnessed. The hotel and hospitality industry in Nigeria has never faced a crisis that brought travel to a standstill, including the Ebola Virus Outbreak of 2014 and the recession of 2015.

“The slow pick up of international travel, restriction on large gatherings, the switch to virtual meetings and fear of the virus, has drastically reduced demand for our hotels and occupancy levels to its lowest of less than five per cent.

“Despite the losses incurred we have fulfilled our obligations to staff. At the inception of the pandemic, we maintained a 100 per cent salary payment to our over 900 employees in March and April.

“We also activated various cost-saving initiatives such as renegotiations of service contracts and restructuring of our loans. We suspended further commitment to buy fixed assets and operating equipment as well as reducing our energy consumption and maintenance costs.

Despite undertaking these, it has become apparent that more fundamental changes need to be made for the business to survive. To this end, our workforce headcount will be reduced by at least 40 per cent and our reward system will be optimised.”

Mrs. Olusola further disclosed how the company plans to adequately compensated its workers given the peculiarities of the economy at this time.

She said: “A health insurance package to reduce their health burden costs, especially during the pandemic, amongst other payment settlements, will be activated. Equally, all Executives of Transcorp Hilton Abuja have now taken a pay cut.

“As one of the leading hospitality brands in Africa, Transcorp Hotels Plc has stated its commitment to uphold service standards and ensure that all guests continue to experience the warmth and hospitality that it is known for.”

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