Three years after suspending international Cargo Tracking Note (CTN), the Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC) has expressed readiness to reintroduce the policy on all imports into Nigeria which would generate N17 billion annually.
The CTN also known as Advance Cargo Declaration System (ACD) is a global initiative to monitor and verify cargo on transit from port of origin to port of destination. It would also, enhance the security functions of government.
African countries such as Angola, Benin Republic, Central African Republic, Togo and Cote D’Ivoire have introduced CTN to track cargoes coming into their respective territories and the implementation of the CTN would bring an end to the increasing incidence of under declaration of cargoes and concealments, which had denied the federal government of huge revenues.
The ICTN was first introduced in Nigeria in 2009 under the management of Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) and was suspended in 2011, following widespread criticisms by stakeholders in the maritime industry.
Four years after its suspension, the federal government through the NSC re-introduced it but it also met stiff opposition from importers and ship owners who knew it would curb activities that lead to swindling the federal government the much needed revenue from the ports through under declaration of tonnages.
Speaking to LEADERSHIP over the weekend, executive secretary of the Council, Barr. Hassan Bello, disclosed that the policy would be reintroduced after widespread consultation with stakeholders especially the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN).
According to him, the CTN would be reintroduced at a very 4th negligible cost to stakeholders as it would also help to curb importation of arms and ammunition into the country.
He said, “The Cargo Tracking Note would soon be reintroduced at a very negligible cost. CTN is a security thing because when we have it, there won’t be smuggling of firearms and all other contrabands. Smuggling of contraband won’t happen because everything coming in will be tracked, we will know the weight of the cargo, values and materials used.”
Bello stated further that the CTN would also help the Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON) and National Agency for Food Drugs Administration and Control (NAFDAC) to fight substandard products and fake drugs respectively. “SON and NAFDAC will benefit by knowing whether products being imported are fake or not.
“I am calling on all the port stakeholders such as manufacturers, shippers and the rest to support this. That is why the Nigerian Shippers Council wants to develop the port community system because what the port needs is unity. There is need for everyone to come together on a platform to know what the other is doing. It is good for data collection for planning and for you to know your customers,” said Bello.
When asked whether the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) who are one of the vocal antagonist of the policy when it was reintroduced in 2015 has given their support, the Council boss said MAN has given their buy-in to the policy.
“We have already gotten the buy-in of stakeholders before now. It was only the Manufacturers Association and when MAN says we should not do things we need to take them serious and I took them serious but we have won them over. We have about 10 meetings, even a committee was set up and the group nominated the chairman and when the committee came, they supported the idea of the cargo tracking note. It is a service to them,” he told LEADERSHIP.
The Cargo Tracking Note (CTN) being championed by the Nigerian Shippers Council if implemented is expected to enhance the security functions of government, generate real-time information and statistics, revenue collection and trade facilitation at the international scene.
Meanwhile, the federal government has expanded the national fleet implementation committee to include the Federal Ministry of Finance, Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and Nigerian Import and Export (NEXIM) Bank.
Speaking on the expanded committee last week, Bello added, “There is an initiative by NIMASA which Shippers’ Council is involved in and NNPC is also changing the Free-On-Board (FOB) policy to Cost Insurance and Freight (CIF). Preliminary meetings have begun and a committee has been setup and Shippers’ Council is also a member of that committee.”
Bello, who also doubled as the chairman of the committee expressed confidence that ship-owners and other operators would invest in the national fleet because the committee was going to package the initiative in such a way that they would want to invest in it.
“Once we have a national fleet, we would accord it the status of a national carrier according to NIMASA. The implication is that for the carriage of all cargoes coming to Nigeria, that carrier would have national priority for federal government, state government and local government cargoes and this is substantial because all imported items for power, rail and other projects that would be carried via these ships.
“This agreement guarantees profitability for the investors. There are also other exemptions, in the past we didn’t pay duties on the ships that we import but we pay now. We want that waiver to be given to the ships in the national fleet.
“We have studied how the process is done in other countries where it is very liberal. This is because owning and maintaining a ship brings significant benefit to a nation’s economy. The freight to be earned would be spent here in Nigeria,” he added.
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