Forex: CBN, Shippers’ Council, Stakeholders To Negotiate Rate

CBN, Shippers’ Council, Stakeholders To Negotiate Rate
Naira vs Dollar
  • Emefiele to go
  • ANLCA, NAGAFF disagree on service withdrawal

With the seeming illogical irony in the foreign exchange management by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), last week, Nigerians have called for the removal of the CBN Governor, Mr. Godwin Emefiele.

While economic activities in the country were negatively affected by further slide in naira exchanging at N400 to a US dollar at the parralel market as against the official rate of N337.59, CBN gave a concessionary dollar rate of N197 to a dollar for 2016 Islamic Hajj Pilgrims, while at the same time increasing the import duty exchange rate to N313 to $1 from N282 to a dollar.

The moments that followed the various decisions were punctuated by high-scale hysteria such that the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) threatened to shut down the ports, as their sister association, the National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF) called on the CBN to bench mark exchange for customs duty assessment.

Worried by the likely breakdown of law and order in the maritime industry, the Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC) waded in to broker series of meetings for the freight forwarders and CBN on one hand, the Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun on the other hand.

Earlier the management of NSC had engaged the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), which maintained that it had no hands in the monetary policy formulation of the government.

However, both the President of ANLCA, Prince Olayiwola Shittu and the Executive Secretary and Chief Executive  Officer (CEO) of NSC, Barr. Hassan Bello confirmed to MMS Plus on Friday, last week, that they would be meeting, this week over a possible benchmarking  of forex for customs duty assessment.

Only members of ANLCA and NAGAFF were billed for the meeting, MMS Plus gathered. ANLCA condemned the hike in customs duty exchange rate. “There should have been a deliberate effort to save Nigerian importers from the effect of fixing the foreign exchange in calculating the import duty. What pains me most is that Nigerians open Form ‘M’ for import at N197 to the dollar only to be forced to pay N331 after the goods had been shipped,” Shittu stated.

“With the various appointments lined up to see the decision- makers, we will explore dialogue first but if it fails we will call for a National Executive Council (NEC)meeting of our association to announce the withdrawal of our services”, he added.

NAGAFF differed, however, on the withdrawal of services at the ports by freight forwarders, saying “it shall be the duty of the aggrieved stakeholders to make appropriate representation to the government through the CBN to benchmark the exchange rate, arguing that section 166 of the Customs and Exchange Management Act (CEMA) provides for one year imprisonment against assemblage of persons with the intent of obstructing free flow of trade.

“We indeed advise that the Minister of Finance in consultation with the CBN governor can benchmark the exchange rate for customs duty purpose. It is  necessary we advise all NAGAFF members and our principals to be conversant and familiar with the provisions of the law. Those who may be acting against the law at the border areas should exercise restraint and follow the due process and rules of engagement on matters of Customs and Excise Laws”, NAGAFF stated in a press statement signed by its National Publicity Secretary, Mr. Stanley Ezenga.

Meanwhile, the concessionary rate of N197 to a dollar for the Islamic Pilgrims raised dust such that many Nigerians wondered if religious activity with no economic benefit to the over-stretched economy is more important than school and health matters.

The CBN, last week, directed banks and authorized forex dealers to sell the Pilgrims Travelling Allowance (PTA), to intending Pilgrims at N197 to $1, saying “No commission shall be charged by the banks for the sale of the PTA to the intending Pilgrims”.

In a circular on Thursday, marked TED/FEMFPC/GEN/01/005, the CBN stated: “Each Pilgrim is entitled to purchase a minimum of $750,000 and maximum of US $1,000 as PTA.”

Following this, some Nigerians have called for the removal of the apex bank boss, saying he is not in control of the position, even though the ruling caucus in the presidency has concluded plans to remove him. Details next week.

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