Aminat Isah, Abuja
The Vice President Of Nigeria, Professor Yemi Osibajo has described the unilateral and arbitrary imposition of surcharges in West and Central African bound cargo as being responsible for the huge sum of illegal capital flight from the countries of the sub-region.
The Vice President who was represented by the Minister of Transportation, Hon. Rotimi Amaechi stated this on Monday at a one-day Sub-Regional Summit on Unfair Shipping Surcharges and High Local Shipping charges at the Ports of West and Central Africa Sub-Region, with the theme, “Impact of Unfair Shipping Surcharges and High Local Shipping Charges on National Economies and West African States.” saying that the huge sum of such illegal capital flight is deeply responsible for depleting the limited foreign exchange and reserve of the countries.
Speaking on the harsh socio-economic conditions being faced by the West and Centralized African States, the VP said ” The over arching objective of this summit is for subregion to adopt a common position on how to reduce the incidences of unfair surcharges and related issues.
Amaechi also expressed with dismay trade among Africa countries which he said is abysmally low due to poor connectivity and lack of adequate transport infrastructure, and noted that the negative impact of poor connectivity is low in intra regional trade in Africa which is below 13℅, while intra regional trade is 53% in Asia and 71% in Europe.
He avers that for Africa to successfully implement the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (ACFTA), members states of African Union (AU) must as a matter of priority focus on the development of transport infrastructure.
” We need to ficus on growth and sustainable development by providing inclusive social and economic development as well as regional integration through transport connectivity in the subregion,”
He salute the courage of the Union of African Shippers’ Councils and Global Shippers’ Forum for beaming its searchlight on the issues of surcharges and urge the West and Central African countries to cone together and adopt common political, diplomatic and operational strategies that will positively impact on the economy of the sub-region.
The Executive Secretary/CEObif the Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC) , Barr. Hassan Bello earlier in his welcome address the Central Bank of Nigeria as a way of actively reducing capital flight in Nigeria in the past one year has sought for the assistance of the NSC as port Economic Regulator to confirm reasonableness of freight rate, and determine reasonableness of demurrage.
According to Bello, about 2billion naira has been saved through the confirmation of reasonableness of demurrage through the collaboration between the CBN and NSC.
He also said “The active participation of NSC in the Nigerian Export Supervision Scheme (NESS), Comprehensive Import Supervision Scheme (CISS) has help to reduce cost by enduring efficiency at the port.
He further said an arbitrary and unilateral increase in charges would not benefit operations, general procedures, but would bring about an unbriddles situation of sporadic and sometimes astronomical pricing regime which is adverse to the development of shipping hence a lose-lose situation.