. . . Lament lack of data to monitor waiver applications
. . . Waivers cost Nigeria trillions of Naira – Customs
By Godwin Oritse
MARITIME stakeholders have said that the Coastal and Shipping Act otherwise known as Cabotage law has been more retrogressive than progressive.
Speaking at the just concluded conference on the strategic plan for the cessation of the grant of Cabotage waivers, Mr Mike Igbokwe said that the issue of Waiver was supposed to be a temporary measure pending when Nigerians would build capacity to take over its coastal trade.
Igbokwe, a maritime lawyer and Senior Advocate of Nigeria, SAN, said that fifteen years after the law was passed, not much has been done to enhance indigenous capacity adding that foreigners still dominated trading activities within coastal waters.
“Waivers are supposed to be temporary, for 15 years we have been on the same spot.
Cabotage waiver was meant to build capacity and replace the foreign element that dominates Cabotage trade and with time compete internationally” he stated.
Similarly, Mrs Rollens Macfoy, Executive Director, Ocean Services said that the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA, does not have data to monitor applications of waivers who have applied before examining new applications for a new waiver.
Macfoy said, “There is no database in NIMASA, the same vessel that applied for waivers two years ago can come again and apply for another waiver without looking at the value such applicant has brought to the table to help grow capacity of local players in the industry”.
The Assistant Comptroller General of Customs in charge of Zone ‘A’ of the Nigeria Customs Service, Mrs Kaycee Ekekezie, said the country has lost trillions of Naira to waivers adding that NIMASA was charting the new and good course for the industry by making plans to stop issuance of waivers.
She said “We all know that Nigeria is an import based economy, all these waivers that are being granted here and there, affects our revenue and us in the Customs will be very glad when a stop is put to these waivers. “There could be other incentives for investors but not outright waivers like that.
“So let us start thinking of generating employment, and we will have something we will call our own”.
The Customs boss explained that the agency cannot stop waiver because it is only a revenue collecting agency for that government adding that there is a limit to their function as an agency.
She also said that any vessel operating within the nation’s coastal waters without a Nigerian flag will be arrested.