Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarding in Nigeria (CRFFN) has issued a fresh date, August 1st 2021 for the collection of the controversial Practitioners Operating Fee (POF) at all ports terminals in Nigeria.
The collection of the fee, which was approved by the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed in 2020, was however suspended barely five months ago over disagreement between the agency and customs agents operating at ports and borders.
Under the POF regime, the CRFFN is targeting between N5billion to N10 billion annually from the collection of the POF as importers would pay N3.5 per tonne of cargo imported into the country, N1.5 per kilogramme for air cargo, N1, 000 on each imported 20-feet container and N2, 000 per 40-feet container.
In March 2021, the council had made first attempt to collect the professional fee at the various port terminals but the collection was resisted, leading to the dragging the CRFFN to court.
Notwithstanding, in a notice to port users issued by Grimaldi Shipping, it stated that payment of CRFFN dues would be a compulsory requirement for releasing of importers’ cargoes at its terminal.
The notice, signed by management of the shipping company, warned that Terminal Delivery Order (TDO) would no longer be signed except POF payment is reflected
It noted: “This is to bring to your notice, the need for all customers to comply with the government regulations with regards to POF charges. We have been advised by CRFFN that payment of the statutory due is one of the conditions to release shipment from the port.
We therefore urge our customers to make payment of this due through various channels made available by CRFFN before approaching our office for DO/TDO. “CRFFN would send us the payment confirmation directly to be captured by our system digitally; hence there is no need for customers to present any physical payment proof.
Please note that we would not be able to issue DO/ TDO if payment of POF is not done through proper CRFFN channels. This shall become mandatory, effective 1st of August 2021.”
Prior to the latest development, the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) had complained that the fee would increase the cost of doing business at the port.
Besides, the association said that the collection of the fee by the council would amount to violation of an order of a Federal High Court sitting in Lagos, which had directed that status quo be maintained pending determination of a case instituted by the association.
When the fee was first introduced in 2015, the charges approved by council are: N1.50 per kilogramme for air cargo, N1, 000 per 20- foot container, N2,000 per 40-foot container, N500 per car/suv, N1,000 per truck or 20-foot equivalent, N2,000 per truck or 40-foot equivalent, N3.50 per tonne for general cargo and N1, 000 per tonne for dry bulk cargo.
However, in the new approval given by the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, dated 6th January, 2020 and signed by the Director, Home Finance, Okokon Udo, it was learnt that all cargoes exiting the port would have to pay N1, 000 on every imported 20-feet container and 2,000 per 40-feet container.
The approval further stated that the receipt of payment of POF must be presented before cargoes exit the ports.