The Director General of Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) Dr Bashir Jamoh on Wednesday paid a call on the Comptroller General of Nigeria Customs Service, Col Hameed Ali in Abuja to discuss how the Temporary Import Permit (TIP) scam perpetrated by importers can be addressed.
The NIMASA boss lamented that the biggest challenge of the maritime sector is the temporary importation through which some fraudulent importers evade payment of import duties on oil rigs and supply vessels.
“Those that are benefiting from this temporary importation, perpetrate the fraud when they bring in their own ship and then after one year they will take it back to their own country and import back with a different name.
“So they do it constantly and this is to the disadvantage of our Nigerian Ship Owners.
“On the part of the agency, we are losing much because we are benefiting from the Cabotage
“They are doing international trade, but cabotage trade is suffering so at the end of the day, indigenous ship owners have a very big problem.
The NIMASA boss noted that the Merchant Shipping Act, Sections 19, 20 and 30 provides that whenever you have such facility it should be registered with the Nigeria Ship Registry.
According to him, Nigeria will benefit more if Customs and Excise Management Act and the Merchant Shipping Act are collaboratively and effectively executed by the two agencies.
Responding, the Comptroller-General of Customs pledged the commitment of the service to pulling forces with NIMASA to drive the sector.
“ It is my hope that we will strengthen the relationship and increase the synergy between us as maritime operators.
“And most importantly to ensure that not only revenue aspect of it but to secure our waters, because it is very important.
“The security of our people is more important than the revenue, because no matter how much you collect, if our people are not settled, or not in peace, then the whole essence with revenue is bastardised,” he said.
On the TIP, he said it was important for the NCS and NIMASA to develop a technology platform that was in synergy.
“We should have more identity of the ship beyond the name, as name can be erased and another name used.
“We must now collectively get some identity of the ship that goes beyond name that should be registered in our records and yours so that if there is recycling of the ship, using that platform, we should be able to identify the ship and be able to apply the law as it is,” Ali said.