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Monday, 22 October 2012 00:00
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Senate Committee uncovers financial scam at Shippers’ Council

Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC) may face problem ın the presentation of its 2013 budget as Senate Committee on Marine Transport has uncovered a large scale fraud and illegality ın the 2012 budget implementation.

The six-man committee led by Mrs. Zaynab Kure visited the council’s head office in Lagos to discharge its oversight function said that the budget performance was not encouraging at all.

Other members of the committee are:  Pius Ewerido, Kabir Gaya, Oluremi Tinubu, Sadiq Yar’ Adua and Joshua Dariye

The committee wondered why the council spent N14mıllıon on maintenance of computers and N80mıllıon to acquire generating sets.

The committee’s Vice Chairman, Senator Pius Ehwerido noted the fact that N14mıllıon was awarded for contracts without any clear ındication of whom the contracts was issued to and how it was carried out.

On internal revenue generation, Senator Ehwerıdo wondered why the one percent levy on import and export collected by the agency was not reflected ın its account, noting the agency’s building was just a peanut of  N3mıllıon for the year.

Reacting the, the Executive Secretary and chief executive officer of the vouncil, Capt Adamu Biu, told the committee that more than 75 per cent of Nigeria’s trade was import-dependent and relied heavily on foreign shippers, prayed the senators to “uplift” the council to become the regulator of import charges.

He has sought enactment of enabling legislations by the National Assembly that will transform the shipment council into the needed economic regulator for the country’s shipping industry.

Biu lamented the incessant and arbitrary increase of shipping charges by foreign shippers, saying that with the concession of the nation’s seaport terminals, the situation had become even worse than ever.

He said:  “Enactment of the enabling laws for the upliftment of the NSC to become economic regulator of import charges has become imperative with the arbitrary increase of charges at the ports today.

“This morning, some agents, who got wind of your visitation, were here to protest recent increase of charges by some terminal operators. The charges are increase without consultation and there is nobody to regulate them. In 1978, when the NSC was established, we had a national shipping line, which was lifting as much as one-third of our trade.

“Without a national shipping line today, Nigeria is 100 per cent dependent on foreign shippers and the foreign shippers are not charity organizations, but are here to make profits. The scenario has now worsened that we have concession our terminals. It is now more than 90 per cent foreign-dominated.”

Biu, also lamented the inadequate funding faced by the Council, as he explained that the one per cent of import duty surcharge accorded it by the laws setting up the NSC was not getting to it.

The executive secretary added: “Frankly speaking, we are illegally being funded, because, as it is today, there is no law that specifies how much we are being funded—that’s the gospel truth and that one per cent is determined the Nigerian Customs. If we are properly funded, we could do a lot more than we are doing today.

 “Having approved the budget for the council, we thought it is only pertinent to be here to see certain things for ourselves and to know further the activities of the shippers’ council. Your presentation had further revealed certain things we did not know before now and we will prevail on the National Assembly for enabling laws that will make the council do better.”

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