…As Acting Registrar promises regular interface with freight forwarders
In a bid to reposition the freight forwarding subsector of the economy to contribute effectively to the Gross Domestic Product, GDP of the country, the Minister of Marine and Blue Economy, Hon. Adegboyega Oyetola has approved the amendment of the Act establishing the Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarding in Nigeria, CRFFN.
The Acting Registrar of CRFFN, Mrs. Chinyere Uromta who disclosed this when she paid a working visit to the headquarters of the Nigerian Association of Freight Forwarders and Consolidators, NAFFAC in Lagos on Wednesday said that the Minister who spoke extensively about the Act and other issues militating against growth of the Council during his maiden visit to the Council’s temporary headquarters in Lagos on assumption of duty, recently gave some approvals, one of which was the amendment of the CRFFN establishment Act.
Her words, “I want to tell us that two weeks into the assumption of office by the new Minister, he paid a maiden visit to CRFFN in Lagos here, that was the first time a minister was coming and sitting down with us where we are squatting here and that was the day I knew that he is really a father and that he is ready to work to deliver. He listened to us, he spoke about the Act extensively and every other thing that is militating against the growth of CRFFN. And he listened and recently,he gave us some approvals and one of them is the amendment of the CRFFN Act.
“So, in collaboration with the Ministry, and maybe some stakeholders in the industry shall be members of that Committee. So, the approval is already out, it is now for us to initiate it. When we go back, we will write to the Minister, he has given us approval, it is now for us to take action. There’s a lot in the Act, so many flaws are there and that is one of the things that are drawing us back.
“So, the Minister has already given approval for it. What you said is very timely and a welcomed development and we look forward that by his grace, some of you that knows what it takes will be members of that Committee before we now go to the National Assembly.”
Insisting that the amendment of the Act was key if the Council must get it right and reposition the industry, Mrs. Uromta added that “If CRFFN must meet up with the expectations of the government and the stakeholders, the Act has to be amended.
On the Practitioners Operating Fee, POF, the Acting Registrar observed that on getting the wind that some agencies including CRFFN would be removed from the federal government budgetary allocation, the management started agitating that the government should facilitate the collection POF for the Council.
She said, “Otherwise, I don’t know where we will find ourselves as a Council knowing that we are the ones representing Nigeria in the world body of freight Forwarders, that is FIATA and we don’t have fund and we are delisted, I wonder what will become the fate of the stakeholders.
“So we made several presentations, position papers, mostly what you have said here about POF collection, by the Act and by the approvals that we got in 2019 to collect our IGR, the sources of our IGR shouldn’t be seaports alone, the cargo airports and land borders are there. The land borders are key. So, after we made this presentation to the him, the Minister listened.
“We were in aviation because the Ministry of Aviation has to do with cargo airports. So, the Ministry facilitated several meetings since I came onboard, planning for this January that has come and gone on how to make ends meet especially paying personnel and meeting all our functions like training and raising standards also. So, the Ministry facilitated, we are expecting a final meeting that could lead us to collection of POF at the airports because we know that our money is still there.
“We pray that by the support of the Ministry and the cooperation of stakeholders, that meeting will be called any moment from now. It was the same meeting the former Minister of Transportation, same letter that was written to the NPA that facilitated our collection at the seaport, the same letter the Minister had written to the aviation to direct NCAA to initiate that move.
“So, we are looking forward to the fruitfulness of that meeting and when it is done, we solicit for the cooperation of stakeholders because any money realized, part of it will still go back to stakeholders for training and every other challenges that we have in the ports that has to do with our mandate.”
Mrs. Uromta further disclosed that before now, the federal government was charging 25 percent of the total revenue accruing from POF, from where it jerked it up to 40 percent in 2022 and finally to 50 percent by January this year without approving increments to the amount the Council was collecting at the ports as POF.
“Assuming we are making like N100,000 now, the government will automatically collect N50,000 because what we have now is 50 percent, no longer 40 percent and their charges are still there. It is not possible for us to meet.
“So, I have reported that to the authority concerned to give us support and proffer ways to do that and as you rightly pointed out, we believe the Minister can do something as well as the National Assembly. We have equally written the National Assembly and everybody is willing to cooperate with us in order to get it right and support the regime. So, all hands are in deck”, she added.
On declarants fee, she said, “It is gazetted and so, no going back and as you rightly pointed out, in 2019, different percentages were agreed upon to be paid and the former Registrar, from the record I saw, started the payment, he actually paid for few months. That was when they were deducting 25 percent from our IGR and you know that not everybody is paying the POF from the seaport, there are some areas that we are asking for help so that we get it right there.
“So, by the time they now introduced 50 percent deduction and the revenue was not increasing and other sources were not explored, by the time the revenue was shared, I think, we were left with nothing. So, I believe that that was what happened that I met huge arrears of declarants fee.
“So, when we got onboard last year, I said, how can we face these people? The ones they paid, no incentive to boost their morale. How can you tell someone I will do this and you still want him to do more. So, we now checked, even though we have limited resources, and even now, we are crying about 40 percent deduction and now it has been increased to 50 percent and even our personnel, our salaries are withdrawn. That is why within us, we say it is even better that we are self funding and it can only be better by we collaborating very well with all stakeholders because we can’t do that without you.
“And that is why we are here to discuss and proffer ways we can do that. If we are paying our dues and people are given what they are supposed to be given after declaring, I think the morale will be boosted and we will achieve more.”
While calling for the support of the members of the association to the Council for it to achieve its mandate, she, however assured them that the engagement will not be a one off thing as according to her, the Council would initiate a consistent town hall meeting going forward.
“So, we are going to initiate a consistent town hall meeting and we will determine how regular it will be so that we listen to ourselves and still get those solutions that we are looking for”, she said.
Photo 1: (L-R): Mr. Ben Ojumah, Director, Planning, Research and Development, CRFFN, Mrs. Chinyere Uromta, Acting Registrar, CRFFN and Dr. Adeyinka Bakare, President General, NAFFAC during the visit yesterday in Lagos.
Photo 2: Mrs. Chinyere Uromta, Acting Registrar, CRFFN in a group photograph with members of NAFFAC during the visit yesterday in Lagos.
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