As Importers and their Agents continue to incur demurrage worth over billions of Naira and still counting due to the suspension of GTbank Plc from Customs duty collection as a result of the bank’s inability to remit collected funds to the Federal government coffers.
Newsonline reports that the Association of Nigeria Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA)said this is a criminal act and called on the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to investigate the GTbank activities.
In a chat with newsmen on Wednesday, the Acting National President of ANLCA, Dr. Kayode Farinto lamented that the suspension of the bank has affected over 400,000 consignments, even as he said his members are calling him lamenting the loss they are incurring as some of their consignments which have paid duty are trapped in the various ports. Even as he stated that the economy may have lost over N40 billion from the ports owing to the suspension of the bank by Customs.
Recall that the Nigeria Customs Service ( NCS) had two weeks ago unannounced the suspension of GTBank from collection of import duty payments on cargoes, thereby subjecting importers and clearing agents to suffer huge demurrages at the ports.
The National Public Relations Officer of the Nigeria Customs Service, Deputy Comptroller Timi Bomodi had explained that the suspension was on the directive of the National Assembly.
Reacting to the continuous suffering by his members, Dr Farinto lampooned GTbank for failing to address the stakeholders, despite the loss incurred by importers and agents running into billions of Naira.
According to Farinto “The amount that Nigerian importers are losing as a result of storages and demurrages is running high and the problem is not yet over. These consignments are still trapped in the ports and agents cannot clear them.
Even some who have made assessments cannot pay duty. It is running to over N40 billion now and that is very unfortunate.
“We have a situation on the ground where nobody is talking to Nigerians. Nobody is talking to our stakeholders, freight forwarders or Customs brokers. That is why there is a need for us to make the world know what is happening in the maritime industry.
“We have a situation whereby GTB must have erred through the issue of reconciliation. We heard that GTBANK has not remitted some hundreds of billion to the Federation account and they have collected this money on behalf of the Federal Government and that was what led to their suspension.
“The Committee on Customs at the House of Representatives directed Customs to suspend GTBANK from the portal. GTBANK has been suspended and some consignments have been trapped.
” As I talk to you over 400,000 containers throughout the federation who open their Form M through GTBANK cannot proceed further haven’t gotten their Pre Arrival Assessment Report (PAAR) because they must pay the duty through the Commercial or dealer Bank where you have opened your Form ‘M’ which are trapped now and there are over 40% of vehicles that needs to be cleared from the seaport which has gotten assessments that can also move forward and cannot go ahead.
“There are about 10% of people who have actually paid duty and as a result of the suspension, the status has not changed in the portal of Customs and they cannot move forward in the area of clearance of the goods.
” Hence we are calling on freight forwarders to make sure that from today the 6th of September, 2022 they should not open their Form ‘M’ or make any assessment or transaction through GTBank again.
“This has become imperative in the view of the fact that nobody is even talking to us. We sent a letter to GTB on this particular issue for them to address us and let us know what is happening but everybody is avoiding us. That is why I want to challenge the EFCC to wade in.
“I don’t know why the EFCC has not come into this issue. We are talking about the Federation accounts. This money has been collected on behalf of the Federal Government and remittances have not been done.
” When you hear that Customs have generated N2 trillion, these are the kind of factors that are militating against remittance. You would now see a situation where some of the commercial Banks collect this money on behalf of the Federal Government and will not remit as and when due.
“So I believe It is about an issue of connivance because the CBN and the Accountant General of the Federation cannot tell us that they are not aware of this. Before it actually got to this dirty or messier level, they might have been some connivances between the CBN on one part and the Accountant-General of the Federation on another part for GTB to say some amount of money has not been remitted into the Federal Government account and nobody seems to be talking to us. Not even the National Assembly that directed that GTBank should be removed from the portal” Farinto explained.