Indication has emerged that core industry stakeholders are totally in support of Government’s introduction of the Cargo Tracking Note, CTN, a platform through which the authorities can accurately identify the actual quantity and volumes of cargoes, being handled inward or outward the country.
The revered stakeholders, comprising of seasoned operators and industry watchers include the National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF) founder, Chief Boniface Aniebonam, Industry Conscience, Otunba Folarin and Anthony Emeordi, amongst several others who bared their minds on conditions of anonymity.
The preponderance of opinions was that there is presently, a massive and non-ignorable degree of under declaration of cargo being going on at the ports, and until the CTN is introduced, the wholesale anomalies would continue, at Government’s expense.
The stakeholders however believed that except the Government‘s puts its feet down, the highly coordinated beneficiaries of the current regime, particularly, the service providers, were likely to advance strong arguments, backed by intimidation to frustrate the CTN dream.
“I am not making a case for cargo or load tracking; but, we are just analysing the issue”, indicated Otunba Kunle Folarin, going down memory lane.
“Let us start by looking at the antecedents: you must recall that there was a time there was massive over declaration of cargo, just to have access to foreign exchange. But later, things changed, and, there is presently massive under declaration of cargo so that the importers can pay lower customs duty; when they import goods in. The under-declaration, you must appreciate, is in terms of quantity and value
“Government brought in Pre-shipment agents and PAAR to tackle over declaration and under declaration of cargo. The question now is: has the problem disappeared? No!
The next question is “Who are the losers when cargo is under-declared? The first person is the Nigerian Ports Authority who must collect less royalty for its Harbour due and cargo handling dues.
“But now that you have concessioned the ports the concessionaires would not allow anyone to get away with it, since they do their own tally by themselves and definitely know how much goods you are bringing in.
But then,, the terminal operators can however, under declare the cargo because they pay royalty to NPA; from whatever they declare as discharged.
So, there is always an issue of over-declaration and under-declaration.
So, what those promoting cargo tracking note are saying and which must be noted is this: there is a problem of under declaration of cargo both in terms of volume and value. By value – Customs loses. And by volume, NPA loses. But cargo tracking will show the actual quantity carried!!
“But those who are against it are saying: affirming the correct state of cargo; quantity and value-wise is going to make the shippers pay more. But check the argument again to the position of the ultimate consumers?
“But there is yet a third argument: If under-declaration of cargo is checked by value – government revenue would rise because customs duty would rise. If under-declaration is checked, the NPA royalty would increase because the whole cargo would be paid for – even if the shipping companies do not declare it.
“Let us now appraise the value of the arguments
(a). Is it true that cargo tracking can check under-declaration? Yes, because the information they have would be a true state of reality which can be checked against the background of cargo manifest from the shipping companies.
The CTN is like bringing some body who says: I would help you, professionally check the quantity and value of cargo for you outside the country, from the port of loading; particularly in terms of the value and volume.
“There is no argument on the benefits of adopting the cargo tracking regime. Once we know the history of our background then we must understand we only need to do this, so that history does not repeat itself.
“Take note: Today, government is again saying you cannot transfer money anyhow. What that means, is that access to foreign currency would soon become tougher; even with the Bureau the change beginning to demand for BVN and from the BVN they can track the records of the man buying the foreign exchange. They can freely obtain your house address, and other relevant information as filled before you brought the foreign exchange.
“If can go this far,, what that means is that, Nigeria must entrench the services of such a regime, whatever it is to track the cargo, in a bid to foreclose and check under-declaration of cargo.
“And to me, it does not matter whoever is anchoring it; be it the NPA, NIMASA or Shippers Council; what matters is that Nigeria must have it in place. These are the most important issues to consider.
“There is a problem; and we cannot continue to ignore it or sweep it under the table. If we keep sweeping it under the table government would also continue to lose revenue.
“We also, cannot ignore the revenue that would come with it. The CTN is a tool with a capacity to swell government revenue. The last question is: Can we solve the problem without applying cargo-tracking note?” he asked, urging Government to flag it off, without further delay.

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