By Godfrey Bivbere & Blessing Oyakhire
IN view of the current economic condition of the country, stakeholders in the Maritime industry have called on the Nigerian Ports Authority, NPA, to halt charging tariffs in foreign currencies saying it is having adverse effects on the industry and could lead to further retrenchment in the industry.
They also urged the NPA to review its contractual agreements with the port terminal operators, stressing that the review was long overdue.
National President of the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents, ANLCA, Olayiwola Shittu, called on the NPA to have a rethink of its decision because of its effect on the sector.
The ANLCA president said: “It looks as if the NPA wants importers and Customs agents to be paying charges to the terminal operators in dollars. Or do they want the terminal operators to manufacture dollars since the dollar is not available in the market?
“I think NPA should have a rethink on that because our currency is our sovereignty, therefore all transactions should be based on naira. Government is not helping, there is a directive that transactions should be done in naira. Any transaction in foreign currency is illegal, I do not know why government should be appropriating and reprobating.”
Similarly, Deputy National President of the National Council of Managing Directors of Licensed Customs Agents, Uchu Block, said that all transactions between the NPA and Nigerians should be in the local currency while transactions with foreign companies, who are involved in collection of charges in dollars should pay the NPA in dollars also.
Block noted that “some of these foreign companies repatriate their money back to their country of origin; therefore it makes sense for them to pay in dollars.”
Managing Director of the NPA, Hadiza Bala Usman, has insisted that since NPA has obligations that are also in US dollars, it would be very difficult to accept payments in naira.