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NPA boss

Use your discretion on payment in dollars by terminal operators, Expert tells NPA MD

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Leading Maritime industry consultant and analyst, Mr. Lucky Eyis Amiwero has called on the managing director of Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Hadiza Bala Usman to use her discretion to effect business driving reforms in the area of payment of certain port charges in dollars by port operators.

Business Hilights recalls that several port and terminal operators had been crying against the impacts of forex unpredictability in paying for some port charges, saying there is need for a review in other to grow the ease of doing business.

In an interview, weekend, the National President of National Council of Managing Directors of Licensed Customs Agent (NCMDLCA), said “In every other contract in the world, there is intervention”.

“The minister is supposed to have a clause to intervene in this kind of situation because you don’t expect that at a time the contract was signed and the dollar rate assessed, it will remain the same, and if you look at the rate now, it has skyrocketed yet there is no cargo coming in.

“So how will people pay? Most of the throughputs are affected by government policies. So there is need for government to review the whole thing and see how these things will be addressed in order to cushion the effect by allowing them to pay in naira.

Explaining more, Amiwero said the needed review from NPA will not only be for terminal operators to pay in naira but there is also need for government to also look at its policies.

He said the issue of cargo throughput is as a result of government policies and it is affecting the operators, but they are not lacking in terms of bringing in ships but the policies have reduced the throughput. So all of these should have been included and put into consideration in their clauses. According to him, “The fact that they are not having cargo and most of the cargoes have been restricted from coming into the country, which is not their fault – so the government must look into those areas so that they can address the problems because it is a contract they entered into with the terminal operators. They cannot be comparing when they entered into the contract and now because of the fluctuating dollar rate.

“It is not tenable for the operators because they have investment, which must be protected. It is certainly not possible for the operators to meet up with their own obligation with the kind of policies will have on ground.

On the dropping capacity utilization at the port, which is put at 40 percent, Amiwero said “We are not surprised at that because almost 70 to 80 percent importers are not bringing things in and the concession agreement is calculated on throughput but when the throughput is not there, how do you expect them to pay?”

“The 40 percent utilization means that there is almost 60 percent of cargo that are not coming in. So there is need for reorganisation and a committee to sit down with government to look at the issues critically. It must not be a question that they must pay because they have investment and those investments must be protected. In this aspect, it is government that has to look into it. The dollar issue and the throughput issue must be reviewed.

“There are areas the terminal operators too have to give in for the government to intervene and make sure that things are balanced,” Amiwero added.


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