By DAPO OLAWUNI
Fresh indications have emerged that freight forwarding associations might eventually be cut off as beneficiaries of the collection of the controversial Practitioners Operations Fees (POF) even as the Importers Association of Nigeria (IMAN) has demanded payment of 10% of the total collection from the governing board of the Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarding in Nigeria (CRFFN)
This was canvassed at a working courtesy visit by IMAN members on the CRFFN Chairman, Alhaji Tsanni Abubakar and some of his board members at Rockview Hotel, Apapa Lagos on Tuesday. The delegation was led by IMAN Deputy President, Chief Simon Ezeji.
Speaking, the IMAN Deputy President noted that his association endorsed the collection of POF as approved by the Federal Government of Nigeria in the interest of businesses of the Nigerian Importers.
He argued that Importers are the ones paying the POF money through freight forwarders who are only acting as proxies.
He however lamented that freight forwarders have rendered their importers invalid in the scheme of things, hence the IMAN demand for the 10percent of the POF collection.
“It is a fact that at the moment other than the financial gain into the coffers of the Council for regulation of freight forwarding in Nigeria (CRFFN), via container fees, general cargoes and motor vehicles paid by Importers and freight forwarders (proxies) as the declarant has rendered the Importers Association of Nigeria (IMAN) moribund and at the best invalid before the eyes of our members we suppose to protect”
“We are therefore requesting you sir and members of your governing council to give us 10% of your total POF collection from the ports and border stations with effect from July 2022.
“We are conversant with what is happening in other countries with regards to your regulatory operations and freight forwarding profession, We thank you for the proper training and re-training of freight forwarders that are equally our mandate to take care o their welfare” he stated
Responding, Alhaji Tsanni Abubakar, Chairman of CRFFN Governing Board urged the IMAN to get themselves registered with the CRFFN in order to get the benefit of the POF sharing formula which was originally meant for them.
Tsanni informed that the Federal Government in the 2022 budget of CRFFN has approved payment of 35percent of the POF payment to the freight forwarding associations and declarants.
“Your request of 10% of the POF is not only CRFFN, the federal government have already approved 35% for you people if you check the budget of 2022, it is just that you did not bring yourselves forward until we bring you at all costs.
“I am very happy that you the importers that are major beneficiaries of the POF brought yourselves at the appropriate time. In a couple of weeks, we would start blocking access to the port so that you would have no alternative than to come back and do the right thing.
Giving a breakdown of how the 35% of the POF approved in the CRFFN 2022 budget would be distributed, Tsanni said ” The 10% officially have been given to associations, 5% was given to the declarants that pay the POF, this has been approved in the 2022 budget.
“The remaining 20% is to take you people on a training because we have already made it a law that no agent would practice freight forwarding in Nigeria without minimum educational qualification.
We have already started the training free of charge.
“The people fighting and saying that they would not pay POF, I just sympathies with them because it is their right” he said
The CRFFN Governing Board Chairman restated the council’s resolve to give you all necessary support to ensure that freight forwarding is developed in Nigeria.
He warned that henceforth, any association that does not meet up with the requirements of the CRFFN Act would be discredited and we would register a new one that has all the qualities.
Tsanni also assured that IMAN would be included into the Freight Forwarders Consultative Forum (FFCF) in order to resolve matters affecting their businesses.
He charged the IMAN to expand its membership across land borders and airports and be formidable.
While urging IMAN to get registered with CRFFN in order to benefit from the POF sharing formula, he said
“CRFFN is the only agency that supposed to stand for any association, and from now to December, any association that does not identity with CRFFN has no place to do any business in the port.
“This is why we have created committee of registration whereby both associations and individuals would come and register and we issue them identification cards, it is with that ID card they can be able to have access to the port so that quacks are not allowed into the port to have any illegal business as it is going on now.
“CRFFN is the mother of all associations that deals with freight forwarding business”