The recent import and export guidelines rolled out by the Federal Government would increase cost and cargo delays at the ports, say clearing agents.
The Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, had last week announced among other things that "Shipping lines shall ensure that Nigeria-bound containerised cargo are palletized," but the clearing agents rather see this as having negative implications on the economy.
National President, National Council of Managing Directors of Licensed Customs Agents, Lucky Amiwero, told The Guardian yesterday that pallets, creates and loose dunnage are extra cost to shipper that do not require pallet, create and loose dunnage in their shipment.
The procedure, he said, would create new cost, delay shipment and discourage shipment into Nigerian Ports.
He also noted that the mandatory enforcement of palletized goods in containers, would reduce the normal shipment into container and increase the number of Containers for each shipment, due to the space the pallet will occupy, which will lead to increase of more containers for shipment.
Amiwero added that the mandatory enforcement of pallets on containerized goods would attract the presence of the plant quarantine officers in the port to regulate the implementation of International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC) and additional cost, which will increase the process and cost to importer/Licensed Customs Agents.
Besides, Amiwero noted that cargoe scanners which are currently non functional are critical requirement for paletised cargoes in containers
"Scanning as procedure is excluded from the import guidelines that contravene the inspection procedure in Nigerian Port, which means that scanning will not be applied to goods in Nigerian ports."
The agents however recommended that government should repair the break down scanners and remove the mandatory provision of palletized goods in containers on Nigeria shipment.
Amiwero also suggested that government should remove shipments based on international shipping terms, which excluded palletized good from the requirement as detailed under: vehicles, equipment; homogenous goods, rice, chemicals, and other goods that are not of dangerous and fragile cargo; reduce the cost and procedure by redrafting the circular to accommodate the above recommendations inline with international best practice.
Adeosun had disclosed that the policy would boost trade and further the Ease of Doing Business focus, as the Federal Government has also reduced documentation requirements for import and export.
The minister stated that the measures included the reduction of documentation requirements from 10 to seven, for exports and from 14 to eight, for imports.
She said that additional responsibilities had been given to the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) and the shipping lines/other carriers.
She highlighted that government's attention is principally focused on measures to ensure reduction in time spent on processing of export and also to ensure 24-hour clearance of cargo imported into the country.
The minister announced that the NCS shall coordinate the mandatory joint examination and Sign-Off Form, within the official working hours, including Saturdays.
Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Finance, Mamoud Isa-Dutse, urged business entities involved in both import and export trading to abide by the provisions of the guidelines.