The National Association of Air Freight Forwarders and Consolidators (NAFFAC) has said that it agreed totally with the position of the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) and two other freight forwarding associations that a declarant for customs formalities is the corporate company licensed by customs as its agent as against the individual canvassed by one of the associations.
It will be recalled that at a meeting between the Minister of Transportation, the Registrar of the Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarding in Nigeria (CRFFN) and the leaderships of the five accredited freight forwarding associations at Abuja on the 11th of October, 2016 to resolve the issues surrounding the collection of the Practitioners’ Operating Fee (POF), it was agreed that a declarant is the corporate company licensed by Customs and not the individual who worked for the company.
But the agreement reached that the corporate company is the declarant was not reached without any hassle as the leaders were meant to cast vote to determine who a declarant is.
Primetime Reporters gathered that while the National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF) voted that the individual is the declarant, ANLCA, NAFFAC, National Council of Managing Directors of Licensed Customs Agents (NCMDLCA) and the Association of Registered Freight Forwarders of Nigeria (AREFFN) voted that the corporate company licensed by customs under which the individual works is the declarant thus taking the day after all as the Minister agreed with their position.
Even though the majority favoured the corporate company as the declarant, the leadership of NAGAFF was not satisfied with the development as it argued that the Act 16 of 2007 that established CRFFN, emphasized more on individual freight forwarder as a person who can be trained and empowered and not the company which is more or less incapacitated without the individual to propel it.
NAGAFF has since launched a media campaign including advocacy to overturn the decision in favor of the individual as the declarant.
But reacting to the development, the President General of NAFFAC, Mr. Chukwuka Ani Thomas Agubamah stated that the general position of the association was that the declarant is the corporate company and not the individual employed by the company.
He argued that if there was any infraction in the declaration made by the licensed corporate company as the declarant, it was the company that received the alert from the customs and not the individual who signed the documents on behalf of the company, same with the NCAA, NPA, NIPOST and other government agencies that deal with the importing public wondering why the table would now turn because it now involved sharing money.
According to him,”Let me tell you what happened at the meeting with the Minister on the 11th of October, now the panel came out to say that the individual is the declarant and then there was the question of who is the declarant. For all I know, which you know, the declarant is the corporate company, like company ABC Limited is the person known to the customs, company ABC Limited is the person known to NCAA as an airline agent, ABC Limited is the person known to NIPOST, the courier operator, ABC Limited is the person known to NPA, to the shipping lines . So, they make all the declarations, whatever it is at customs, NCAA, NIPOST, courier or whatever. It is the company that is known first and foremost, then the company now nominates its personnel that will do its job.
“Now, some people who are very learned are telling us that the individual, the personnel, the staff, the servant of a company is now the declarant which makes us wonder when customs for example issues DN, do they issue it to individual? They issue it to the corporate license holder, ABC Limited. When NCAA issues query, it issues it to ABC Airline Agent, they don’t issue it to Patrick Sule working in the company.
“So, all these things are clear. So, at NAFFAC, we have looked at the issues involved and we think, well, the Minister has done Pontius Pilate, washed off his hands and say let the declarant benefit that 35% that accrues from the revenue that will be shared from the POF”.
He disclosed that contrary to insinuations in some quarters, AREFFN was with the other four associations on the issue of who a declarant adding that AREFFN, ANLCA, NAFFAC and NCMDLCA all agreed that the declarant was the corporate entity.
“It was only NAGAFF that disagreed and the most annoying thing is, when we came back here, NAGAFF misrepresented what happened at Abuja. The vote at Abuja had nothing to do with whether the associations or the declarants gets the 35%, that was not the vote, the vote was on who is a declarant. Now NAGAFF people came back here and misrepresented what happened at Abuja, vilifying the other associations”, he said.
The Ministry of Transportation had earlier approved the sharing formula for the yet to be collected POF to be 65% for the government through the CRFFN and 35% to the declarant and nothing for the associations thus the reason all efforts are geared towards determining who a declarant is.
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