NIMASA, Customs to check temporary import permit abuse

THE Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) and the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) have agreed to join forces to close loopholes in the Temporary Importation Permit (TIP) system that importers often exploit to avoid levies due to the government.

Director-General of NIMASA, Dr. Bashir Jamoh, stated this in Abuja recently when he visited the Comptroller-General of Customs, Col. Hameed Ali (rtd).

Jamoh stated, “The biggest issue we have has to do with temporary importation. What we observed is that people capitalise on the good gesture of government policies.

“Those that are benefiting from this temporary importation bring in their own ship and after one year they will take it back to their country and import back with a different name. They do it constantly and this is to the disadvantage of our Nigerian ship-owners.”

He said Cabotage trade, which falls within the core functions of NIMASA, was suffering as a result of the abuse of the temporary import permit, and, “At the end of the day, it is indigenous shipowners that bear the brunt.”

The Director-General said the Merchant Shipping Act provided that vessels used in importation should be registered with the Nigeria Ship Registry, but in most cases, the importers did not.

He called for greater synergy between NIMASA and NCS, and indeed, all agencies in the maritime sector, to address pertinent issues and improve the sector.

Jamoh said it was in pursuit of such cooperation that a regular meeting of heads of maritime agencies was recently initiated. The meeting debuted on July 7 in Lagos at the Nigerian Shippers Council (NSC). It had in attendance Executive Secretary of NSC, Mr. Hassan Bello; Managing Director of Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Hadiza Bala Usman; Managing Director, National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA), Dr. George Moghalu; and Rector, Maritime Academy of Nigeria, Oron, Commodore Emmanuel Effedua (rtd).

Responding, the Comptroller-General of Customs pledged the commitment of the service to pooling resources with NIMASA to address the TIP issue and other problems in the sector. He said there was a need for both agencies to design a common framework for tackling the issues.

Ali said such an approach would ensure that if Customs registered a ship and gave it a TIP, NIMASA would also have records of that registration on its own platform.

 

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