Nigeria’s import policies cause loss of government revenue, port operators

The terminal operators say Nigeria is losing cargoes to neighbouring ports

The Seaports Terminal Operators Association of Nigeria, STOAN, on Tuesday said the rice, fish and automotive policies of the Federal Government has caused Nigeria to lose revenue to Nigeria’s neighbouring countries.

The Chairman of STOAN, Vicky Haastrup, said in Lagos that since 2012, rice vessels had not come into the country due to the high import duty.

“Since January 2012, there has not been any rice cargo in Nigeria because of the import duty on rice.

“In Nigeria, it’s 110 per cent; in Benin Republic it’s 7 per cent; while in Cameroon, it’s 0 per cent; so the vessels go to Benin Republic.

“Benin Republic saw this as a huge opportunity and in 2013, they imported about 2.2 million tonnes of cargo in rice and at least 1.6 million tonnes found their way into Nigeria,” she said.

Ms. Haastrup said that this scenario amounted to revenue loss to the government and the port operators too.

She said while the newly-introduced Automotive Policy was meant to develop the local industries, it would be better taken in gradually to avoid any hardship on the people.

She lamented that the effect of multiple taxation on terminal operators and the cost of providing infrastructure made the running of seaports operations high in Nigeria.

“We pay Value Added Tax, VAT, on throughput (imports and exports). We pay tax and at the end of the year, we are taxed on the total amount collected.

“When the Nigerian Ports Authority, NPA, sends us invoice, they still tax us.

“It is more expensive to run seaport terminals in Nigeria than in anywhere else considering the fact that there are inflationary costs like increase in the price of diesel,” Ms. Haastrup said.

She said that the location of tank farms within Apapa contributed to the environmental challenge of congestion which made it difficult for trucks to move easily.

“I think the port environment is seriously congested, simply because there are a lot of businesses that are situated in Apapa that are not supposed to be here, like the tank farms.

“People do not like it when I talk about this, but that is the truth. The tank farms are too close to the Nigerian seaports where we discharge other cargoes,” Ms. Haastrup said.

She said that in spite of the numerous investments by the terminal operators in sustaining seaport operations, they continue to collect only statutory charges.

Ms. Haastrup said the association is committed to improving services and had recorded about 250 per cent increase in cargo throughput since 2006.

“All the terminals have done about 250 per cent throughput from 2006 to date. This shows efficiency in our service delivery.

“We have been able to develop infrastructure at the port which brought in confidence in the sector,” she said.

(NAN)


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