Licensed customs agents have urged the Federal Government to address the issue of exchange rates and taxation to boost the maritime sector.
In separate chats with The PUNCH in Lagos on Tuesday, the agents also called on the government to tackle other economic issues affecting the sector.
The founder of the National Council of the Managing Directors of Licensed Customs Agents, Mr. Lucky Amiwero, said the economic woes in the sector had led to a massive drop in importation into the country.
“The government should look into the economic issues; it is not a political thing. It has affected almost every person in the country apart from the few elites who are benefiting from it. It is something that the government should focus on, because it has affected a lot of people. So many people can’t send their children to school. Importers no longer bring in goods as usual,” Amiwero remarked.
He lamented that many medium and small-scale businesses had closed up because of the worsening economic challenges in the country.
“The government should address the issues of floating of the exchange rates. The government should look at the economic issues, move the economy out of politics, and address it properly. It is affecting everybody.
“The government has not increased any taxation; it is the floating exchange rate and fuel subsidy that is affecting the sector,” he argued.
Also, the Vice President of the National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders, Nnadi Ugochukwu, urged the government to address the issue of excessive taxation in the sector.
“If you bring 12-year-old vehicles, you would be taxed the same rate for 10-year-old vehicles. You would be taxed in excess. Then, the government said that levies were to be paid on luxury goods, but they now charge levies on trailers, tankers, and all that. How can they justify that all in the quest to make money?” he stated.
According to Ugochukwu, in the last 21 years, the country has experimented with local production of rice, it is not working.
“It is time for Nigeria to reconsider its approach to rice production. Ban should be lifted on rice importation because there is too much hunger in the land,” he submitted.
Meanwhile, a former Chairman of the National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders, Murtala Muhammed Airport Chapter, Olusegun Musa, urged the government to review its policy on export, import, and other fiscal policies.
He maintained that stakeholders want to see a consistent policy that would give stakeholders in the industry direction on the import and export regimes.
“We also want the Comptroller General of Customs to engage stakeholders. We want him to engage us to have a serious discussion on how to improve the system. The CG needs to create time because we have a lot to discuss,” he said.