Freight Agents lampoon additional cost, CRFFN defiant
As part of efforts to ensure all freight forwarders in Nigeria comply with the directive on payment of Practitioners Operating Fees (POF), the Federal Government has approved POF receipts as requirement for cargo clearance at Nigerian ports and borderposts.
The Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarding in Nigeria (CRFFN) revealed this yesterday during a stakeholders’ meeting on ‘POF Collection’ in Lagos.
The Registrar of CRFFN, Barr. Samuel Nwakohu disclosed this and displayed the letter from the Ministry of Finance titled; “Re: Request For The Inclusion Of CRFFN Practitioners Operating Fees Receipt As Requirement For Cargo Exit From Ports And Land Borders”
The letter signed by the Director, Home Finance, Mrs. Okokon Udo was a reply to an early request by CRFFN for the introduction of POF as requirement for cargo clearance in order to ensure compliance.
According to the Registrar, the decision to make payment of POF a requirement for cargo clearance is part of efforts to ensure the new policy is watertight.
Speaking on POF payment, Nwakohu said; “If you want to make an effective law, you must ensure that it is watertight. If that condition isn’t introduced, most the practitioners wouldn’t pay”
The CRFFN boss also argued that the POF wouldn’t add to the cost of doing business at the port, with claims that the freight forwarding practitioners beat the cost and not the end users.
Meanwhile, the additional cost of POF to be levied on freight forwarders would be passed on to importers. Consequently, leading to an increase in the prices of imported goods and services.
The breakdown cost for POF include; N1000 for 20ft containers, N2000 for 40ft containers or N3.50 per ton for general cargo and N1.50 per ton for bulk cargo.
However, despite obtaining Federal Government approval for the collection of POF, CRFFN may suffer severe resistance from practitioners.
The response emanating from some of the freight agents at the CRFFN stakeholders’ meeting showed a high level disdain and ill feelings about the collection as the practitioners described it as an additional cost burden on their activities.
Speaking at the summit, the Chairman, Apapa Chapter of the National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF) Mr. Ndubuisi Uzoegbu said POF was the least of the issues CRFFN should worry about given the numerous challenges facing freight forwarders.
He lamented that CRFFN remained unperturbed despite the copious charges and tough working environment freight forwarders in the country operate in, urging the regulatory body to focus on enhancing freight forwarding practice rather than introducing additional cost.
Reacting to this development, Mr. John Iwunor John of NAFFAC Airport chapter stated that freight agents at the airports were already subjected to many frivolous taxes.
“FAAN collects several charges from us and they will still collect money for Identity Cards up to the tune of N15 thousand. Since government is more powerful than any individual, I want to beg you please reduce the amount with which we register for both company and as individuals”, he said.
Another participant, Mr. Yomi Adebola opined that the POF collection should have been structured into annual subscription payments instead of charges per shipment.
“Professional bodies like the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN) pay professional dues annually. Why not limit CRFFN’s to annual payment instead of asking us to pay per shipment. We pay customs duty and other charges and you also want us to pay this one”
“We should be aggrieved because we are the ones to pay the new charges. I see the payment as adding to our burden. Everybody is talking about payment and my question is; was CRFFN was created to protect our interest?” he queried.
By Kenneth Jukpor