By Godwin Oritse
THE Federal Government may revise its decision to introduce the controversial Cargo Tracking Note (CTN) Levy following petitions against the levy just as the House of Representative Committee on Marine Transport has summoned the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) following petitions against the project.
A member of the Committee who spoke to Vanguard on the condition of anonymity said that imposition of levy and charges have procedures which must be followed.
While Industry players and stakeholders are currently divided over the introduction of the CTN levy, promoters of the project are doing everything possible to woo as many stakeholders as possible to accept the levy.
The strongest opposition to the CTN project is the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) which members see the introduction of the levy as an additional charge on Nigerian bound cargo.
Already, there has been an agreement between the consultants to the CTNÂ project and the management of the Nigeria Ports Authority whereby the consultants takes 40 per cent ofÂ whatever revenue is realised, while NPA will take 60 per cent. It will be recalled that the CTN project failed its first test when it could not alert the Nigerian authorities on the shipment of the toxic waste purportedly brought into the country by Mearskline vessel.
Vanguard gathered that the Ministerial meeting which was presided over by the Director of Maritime services (who represented the minister) took place on Monday, April 19, 2010 in Lagos.
It was attended by officials of Nigerian Ports Authourity, Manufacturers Association of Nigeria, Shipping Association of Nigeria, Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry, National Association of Chambers of Commerce Industry Mines and Agriculture as well as the National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders which went to defend the CTN.
On the strength of the discovery, the director was said to have expressed shock that the container actually had a CTN and also that collection of the levy has actually commenced, even though government was yet to give a final verdict on it.
The ministerâ€™s representative was also reportedly shocked when he was shown a copy of a letter that was said to have been written jointly by NPA and TPMS Nigeria Limited to importers to the effect that CTN is â€œirreversibleâ€ and that importers who do not comply would be dealt with at the point of discharge of their cargo.
A copy of the letter which was dated March 25, 2010 and which was sighted by Vanguard reads in part: â€œAll bills of lading, cargo manifests presented by the shipping managers must bear the corresponding CTN numbers. One of the main targets of the CTN is to provide authorities with advanced information on cargoes for statistics and security reasons (ISPS), accordingly all shipping managers are kindly requested to make sure that all cargo manifests and B/ladings should bear CTN number in order to avoid penalties at the discharging portsâ€.
â€œAll shipping lines not adhering to above will subject to fines from N.P.A and receivers will face customs penaltiesâ€, the letter had threatened.
It was also learnt that contrary to the assurances from operators of CTN that it does not attract addition levy, importers now pay between $325 and $425 per 20_ foot container as compulsory CTN levy.
For instance, such containers coming from China and USA attract $425 per 20_ foot container, while the ones coming from United Arab Emirate and India pay $325 and $340 respectively.