By DAPO OLAWUNI
The Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarding in Nigeria (CRFFN) has indicated readiness to commence the collection of Practitioners Operating Fee (POF) on all cargoes coming into Nigeria through the airports.
The POF payment is a statutory payment which has been gazetted by the Federal Government, and it is already being paid at the seaports.
The POF is a legal practising fee of N1,000 and N2000, which must be paid for the 20ft and 40ft containerss respectively before cargo can be cleared.
Speaking during a visit to the headquarters of the Nigerian Association of Freight Forwarders and Consolidators, NAFFAC in Lagos on Wednesday, Acting Registrar of CRFFN, Mrs. Chinyere Uromta said already, the Council is in talks with the Ministry of Aviation and a directive has been given to the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) to help facilitate the POF collection.
“We were in aviation because the Ministry of Aviation has to do with cargo airports. So, the Ministry facilitated several meetings since I came onboard, planning for this January that has come and gone on how to make ends meet especially paying personnel and meeting all our functions like training and raising standards also. So, the Ministry facilitated, we are expecting a final meeting that could lead us to collection of POF at the airports because we know that our money is still there.
“We pray that by the support of the Ministry and the cooperation of stakeholders, that meeting will be called any moment from now. It was the same meeting the former Minister of Transportation, same letter that was written to the NPA that facilitated our collection at the seaport, the same letter the Minister had written to the aviation to direct NCAA to initiate that move.
“So, we are looking forward to the fruitfulness of that meeting and when it is done, we solicit for the cooperation of stakeholders because any money realized, part of it will still go back to stakeholders for training and every other challenges that we have in the ports that has to do with our mandate.”
Mrs. Uromta further disclosed that before now, the federal government was charging 25 percent of the total revenue accruing from POF, from where it jerked it up to 40 percent in 2022 and finally to 50 percent by January 2024 without approving increments to the amount the Council was collecting at the ports as POF.
“Assuming we are making like N100,000 now, the government will automatically collect N50,000 because what we have now is 50 percent, no longer 40 percent and their charges are still there. It is not possible for us to meet.
“So, I have reported that to the authority concerned to give us support and proffer ways to do that and as you rightly pointed out, we believe the Minister can do something as well as the National Assembly. We have equally written the National Assembly and everybody is willing to cooperate with us in order to get it right and support the regime. So, all hands are in deck”, she added.
Uromta sought the support of NAFFAC as an association, even as she assured that the CRFFN would continue to carryout its constitutional madate of training and retraining freight forwarding Practitioners from proceeds of the POF fund.
On his part, the NAFFAC President, Bakare, lamented the association is yet to get a dime from the sharing of proceeds from Practitioners Operating Fees (POF), even as he argued that there are shortcomings in the collection process.
His words: “We had an agreement between the accredited associations and CRFFN on the modalities for sharing the POF. However, it is sad that up till now NAFFAC hasn’t gotten N1 as an association from the POF reimbursement. We agreed on a percentage after several deliberations.”
Bakare equally encouraged CRFFN to explore its relationship with the Minister for Marine and Blue Economy in a bid to take charge of other aspects of freight forwarding seemingly jettisoned by the agency. He listed warehousing, logistics, trucking, local handlers, among others; stressing that an amendment CRFFN Act would reposition the agency to handle these areas.