In the News:
Nigerian Dredging & Inter-Modal Transport Digest.
FG Reduces Tariffs, Bans Importation Of Used Cars, Textiles
Nigeria’s Federal Government has begun a new regime of customs and excise tariffs which reduced the duties paid on primary raw materials from 10 per cent to 5 per cent. It also prohibited the importation of used motor vehicles above 10 years. Buses and trucks, no matter their age, are however, excluded from the prohibition list.
Under the new regime of tariffs, prohibitions include the importation of textile fabrics and articles thereof, including Hollandais, English Wax, Ankara, Lace fabrics, wedding gowns and ceremonial apparels, second hand clothes, rugs and carpets, as well as recharge cards.
These were made known by the Comptroller-General of Customs, Hammeed Bello Ahmed, while addressing the press on the 2008-2012 Nigeria Customs and Excise Tariff Book at the headquarters of the Federal Ministry of Finance, Abuja.
Other items on the new import prohibition list include beer and stout; plastics in the form of forks, spoons, toothpicks; retreated and used tyres; cases, boxes, cartons made from corrugated materials; foot-wears, suitcases, sports wears. Others on the prohibition list are furniture items of any type, except baby walker, ball pens including refills.
In his speech, the Director- General of the Budget Office of the Federation, Dr. Bright Okogu, disclosed that the 2008-2012 tariff book is a second attempt by Nigeria to harmonise its tariff regime with the ECOWAS Common External Tariff (CET).
He observed that as part of government’s efforts to harmonise its tariff regime with the ECOWAS CET, the 2005-2006 Nigeria Customs and Excise Tariff Book was released on October 1, 2005. "The 2005-2006 Tariff Book had 60 per cent of its duty, harmonised with the ECOWAS CET. However, realising the weak nature of the ECOWAS CET in providing protection for infant industry, Nigeria proposed a 5th band of 50 per cent duty rate. Thus, unlike the ECOWAS CET, which has four tariff bands of 0 per cent, 5 per cent, 10 per cent and 20 per cent duty rates, the Nigeria 2005-2006 Tariff Book has five Tariff bands namely 0 per cent, 5 per cent, 10 per cent, 20 per centand 50 per cent duty rates", he further said.
According to the Director- General, the features of the 2008-2012 include amongst others, five categories of customs duty, namely: category O (0%) for necessities such as most educational materials, etc; category 1 (5%) for primary raw materials; category 2 (10%) for intermediate products, e.g CKD refrigerators, CKD television; category 3 (20%) for finished goods that are not produced locally and which require no protection, e.g. television, refrigerators, generators, etc; category 4 (35%) for finished goods that were manufactured locally and which therefore required some protection in the interest of promoting local industries.
Ports Congestion Imminent, Says A P Moller.
Unless the current trend of importers delaying over taking away their containers from the Lagos Ports continue, port congestion may set in again.
This was revealed by the Managing Director of APM Terminals, Mr Michael Hansen, in September. He said importers spend average of 28 days to take away their containers from the port..
Hansen told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos that the "the current dwell time of imported containers at the ports is unacceptable''. He said previous efforts to tackle the problem of delayed clearance of goods at the ports had not yielded the desired results.
The APM boss said his company now had the necessary equipment for handling containers and that positioning of containers for examination now takes less than 12 hours at his terminal; also saying that direct electronic connectivity with the Nigeria Customs service had been achieved.
``Despite all these initiatives, we remain far from the goal of 48-hour clearance and today we are at an average of 28-day cargo dwell time,'' Hansen said.
Hanson revealed some new measures to effectively reduce cargo dwell time at the ports..
`One of the new measures is the introduction of a progressive storage penalty effective from Oct.1, 2008,'' he said.
He said that under the new arrangement, consignees would enjoy rent-free period
for the first three days of arrival of their containers while the storage charges for the next seven days would remain.
"The progressive storage penalty applies on the containers still sitting at the ports. We have no interest in people leaving their containers for long time and returning to pay high storage charges. We are not interested in getting any income from storage. What we want is for people to get their containers out fast,'' Hansen said.
NIMASA To Sponsor Dockworker Training.
As part of efforts to enhance terminal operations in Nigeria , the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA, has concluded plans to sponsor dockworkers for training.
The Director General of NIMASA Dr. Ade Dosunmu who disclosed this during the meeting of the Agency’s Management with Terminal and Private Jetty Operators in Lagos however noted that only dockworkers registered with NIMASA will be qualified to benefit from the programme.
He stated further that the Nigerian dockworkers register being compiled by the Agency will be ready for use by the first week of December and reaffirmed the commitment of NIMASA management to improving the professional competence of Nigerian dockworkers.
The President General of the Nigerian Maritime Workers Union, Comrade Onikolease Irabor who led the Labour delegation to the tripartite meeting said that training of dockworkers was a prerequisite for achieving a harmonious work environment in the terminals and jetties.
He noted that dockworkers can only cope with the challenges that come with modernization and transformation that has taken place in the terminal operating system in Nigeria if they are exposed to adequate training.
While speaking on the disruptions to operations in some terminals in Port Hacourt, Comrade Irabor advised operators to always be prompt in reporting any challenge in their operations to NIMASA and other Government Agencies responsible for regulating Terminal operations, insisting that no labour leader was too big to be controlled.
According to him “They cannot continue to perpetuate acts capable of giving Nigeria a bad name under the guise of Unionism. We have invested a lot to ensure conducive environment for the operations of terminal operators. No labour leader is too big to be controlled.”
During the meeting, an agreement on minimum standards for the dock labour industry was reached and signed by both the Terminal Operators and the Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria,(MWUN), with the Nigerian Ports Authority and NIMASA acted as observers.
Partial Closure of Apapa-Oshodi Expressway Begins.
Partial closure of the Apapa-Oshodi expressway in Lagos by the Lagos State Government began in late October for a proposed overhead bridge across the ever-busy highway. The closure would last 120 days to enable contractors carry out piling operations for the construction of the Okota-Itire overhead bridge.
This is coming about three weeks after the re-opening of the Third Mainland Bridge which was also partially shut from August to September to enable repair works.
Lagos State Transportation Commis-sioner, Professor Bamidele Badejo has said there was no going back on the partial closure. He said in the first 45 days, it will only affect Oshodi-bound section of the expressway. During the closure only heavy-duty trucks will be allowed passage in some sections of the road while light vehicles will be diverted.
Works Commissioner, Engr. Ganiyu Johnson, has directed that light vehicles going to Oshodi from Apapa are expected to drive through Adeshina Street (by Ijesha Bus-stop), Agunlejika Street (Agunlejika Bus-stop), while vehicles going to Surulere could drive through Ijesha Road-Lawanson/Itire Road-Iyana- Itire and link up to their destinations.
Vehicles going to Surulere are also advised to drive through Aguda Road while those going to Ilasa/Mushin area could drive through Babalola/Pako-Eleja/Itire Road during the closure.
The second phase of the closure, which is also expected to last 45 days, will begin immediately after the first phase and will be in reverse order with the road partially closed to traffic going to Apapa from Oshodi while piling operation is carried out on the Apapa-bound section of the new link bridge. Motorists coming from Oshodi are advised to drive through Iyana-Isolo-LASPOTECH Roundabout-Abimbola Way-Bello Street-Godwin Omonuwa-Ibe Road-Cele Okota Road, while those going to Apapa could either drive through Cele Bus stop or Ago/Okota-Apple Junction (Mile 2) for Amuwo-Odofin, FESTAC and Satellite Town bound vehicles.
During the interval, motorists from Oshodi were enjoined to drive through Chessborough Way ( Limca Road) by Hassan Bus stop-Abimbola Way-Bello Street-Taiwo Street-Godwin Omonuwa-Ibe Road to Cele/Okota, while those going to Apapa are advised to drive through Ago/Okota Road through Apple Junction (Mile 2) to Amuwo-Odofin, FESTAC and Satellite Town.
The third phase of the closure which is expected to last 30 days will involve the partial closure of the two sides of the Expressway (Oshodi-bound and Apapa-bound traffic) to enable the contractors complete the super-structural work on the bridge.
FG Suspends $3.8bn Rail Contract
The Federal Government has suspended the $3.8 billion railway modernisation contract it awarded in 2007, to the Chinese Civil Engineering Construction Corporation (CCECC).
This was made known yesterday in Lagos, by Coordinator of the project, Mr Chi Hong Bing, when the Senate Committee on Land Transportation, led by its Chairman, Garba Lado, visited the project site.Bing showed Lado a copy of the suspension letter sent to the CCECC through the Federal Ministry of Transportation, but did not give reasons for the suspension.
Fielding questions from reporters on the development, Lado condemned the contract, saying the execution was yet to start.
"There was no record before the Senate indicating that the contract was given due process; this is the first time the committee is hearing about the suspension.
I want to believe that it is because of the various accusations from different quarters that the company is not serious about the job.
"From our own assessment, I do not expect anything positive, because the last time we came here, we met similar equipment. It is like nothing is done here; we want action and progress after advancing the company with $2.5 billion,’’ he said.
Earlier while addressing management staff of the Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC), Lado alleged that a cabal was behind the inefficiency of the rail system in the country.
He said an effective rail system was vital to the development of any nation, and vowed to frustrate the activities of the cabal.
FG Finally Sacks 20 Ministers
President Umaru Musa Yaradua finally made known the list of sacked ministers five months after its first hinting. It happened after a group photograph with all the ministers who attended the last Federal Executive Council as at the end of October 2008.
Twenty ministers out of the total number of 42 were dropped from the cabinet.
Among them were Minister and Deputy Chairman, National Planning Commis-sion, Senator Mohammed Sanusi Daggash, and Minister of Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Alhaji Aliyu Modibbo Umar, both of whom were believed to be in the President’s kitchen cabinet.
A statement issued by Presidential Spokesman Olusegun Adeniyi said the ministers were relieved of their posts in furtherance of the ongoing efforts to reposition and strengthen the present administration for enhanced effectiveness in service delivery. President Yar’Adua had restructured the federal ministries in September, de-merging some ministries earlier merged under erstwhile President Olusegun Obasanjo and creating a new Ministry of Niger Delta. Under the restructuring, there is now a total of 28 ministries to be manned by 42 ministers.
Sacked ministers in the new dispensation include Adamu Maina Waziri - Minister of State Agriculture; Charles Ugwu - Commerce & Industry; Ahmed Garba Bichi - Minister of State Commerce & Industry; Igwe Aja-Nwachuku - Minister of Education; Jerry Anthony Agada - Minister of State Education 1; Fatima Balaraba Ibrahim; Minister of State Power; Emmanuel Olatunde Odusina - Minister of State Gas; Halima Tayo Alao – Minister of Environment and Housing, and John James Akpanudoedehe – Minister of State Federal Capital Territory.
Others were Tijani Yahaya Kaura - Minister of State 1 Foreign Affairs; Ibrahim Dasuki Nakande – Minister of State for Information & Communication; Alhaji Haruna Hassan – Minister of State Interior; Sarafa Tunji Isola – Minister of Mines and Steel Development; Ahmed Mohammed Gusau - Minister of State Mines and Steel Development; Felix Hyatt – Minister of State Transportation (Aviation); John Okechukwu Emeka - Minister of State Transportation 2; Saudatu Usman Bungudu – Minister of Women Affairs, and Abdulrahman Hassan Gimba - M/Chairman National Sports Commission (NSC).
It was gathered that some of the ministers were dropped for non-performance or poor performance, while others were let off for alleged in-fighting, a fault said to have been found in the former ministers of FCT, Environment and Water Resources.
According to the FG statement, some retained ministers would be overseeing some of the other ministries pending the confirmation of the new list of ministers by the Senate and their being sworn into office. Thus Mr. Remi Babalola (Minister of State, Finance), would serve as Supervising Minister for FCT; Minister of State, Agriculture and Water Resources, Mr. Demola Seriki, would serve as Supervising Minister for the Federal Ministry of Mines and Steel Development, while Dr. Aliyu Idi Hong (Minister of State, Culture and Tourism) will serve as Supervising Minister for the Federal Ministry of Commerce and Industry. Alhaji Alhassan Bako Zaku (Minister of State, Science & Technology) is to act as Supervising Minister for the NSC; Elder Godsday Orubebe (Minister, Special Duties) will act as Supervising Minister/Vice Chairman, National Planning Commission and Mrs. Grace Ekpiwhre (Minister, Science & Technology) will oversee the Federal Ministry of Women Affairs.”
Budget 2009: FG Proposes N2.67tr Expenditure
Nigeria’s Federal Government has budgeted an aggregate expenditure of N2.67 trillion (about $22.3 billion) in the proposed appropriation bill for the 2009 fiscal year, and expect to realise a total of N4.558 trillion (about $38 billion) as revenue in the fiscal year based on a crude oil price benchmark of $45 per barrel. Crude oil as at October ending is hovering at $64 in the international market.
The budget details were made known in proposals for 2009 budget titled “Federal Government of Nigeria 2009 Budget Preparation and Submission Call Circular” meant for submission to the Senate and signed by the Minister of Finance, Dr. Shamsuddeen Usman. The documentation is in circulation to the Governor, Central Bank of Nigeria, the Auditor-General for the Federation, the Clerk to the National Assembly, Principal Secretaries to the President and the Vice-President, chairmen of commissions, ministers and ministers of states.
The circular was meant also for instructions and to provide guidance to ministers, accounting officers and other officers charged with the responsibility for budget preparation, on the formulation and submission of the 2009 budget of their respective ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs).
The proposed N2.67 trillion expenditure is made up of statutory transfers of N164.3 billion, debt service of N436.2 billion and spending of N2.076 trillion for MDAs including Multi Year Tariff Order (MYTO) of N60 billion
The aggregate expenditure profile represented a decrease of 2.6 per cent in and a decline of 6.2 per cent in MDA allocation when compared to the N2.745 trillion and N2.2 trillion of 2008 budget respectively.
For the draft budget, Usman attributed the decline to reduction in the total expected revenue to be raked in from an estimated lower crude production level of 2.3 million barrel per day (mbpd) as against 2.45mbp used for 2008 budget.
He also explained that the decline was as a result of the sliding oil prices at the international market, which had fallen from a peak of about $147 per barrel to a current level of $64 per barrel.
According to him, “The total available resource base is smaller as a result of the fact that oil production used for 2009 budget is at a more realistic level of 2.3 mb/d vs. 2.45 mb/d used in the 2008 budget, but actual output in the first half of 2008 was just 2.02 mb/d, following continued disruption to production.
“The oil price has been declining in recent months – from a peak of about $150 per barrel in June to $112 per barrel in August.”
Further breakdown, revealed that, statutory transfers has been put at N164.3 billion, made up of N89.7 billion to the National Judicial Council, N34.9 billion to Niger Delta Development Commission and N39.7 billion to the Universal Basic Education Commission.
The debt service payment of N436.2 billion will be used as N387.8 billion for domestic debt and N48.4 billion for foreign debt.
The MDAs are expected to spend N2.076 trillion, from which N110 billion, being savings from Paris Club debt relief will be spent exclusively on specific projects and programmes to support the attainment of MDGs.
Out of the total capital allocation, N495.5 billion has been apportioned to the MDAs. Top on the list of beneficiaries is the Transportation Ministry, which will receive N114.2 billion for projects followed by Energy which has been budgeted N110.3 billion. Agriculture and Water Resources Ministry gets N80.9 billion; Health, N34.5 billion; Ministry of FCT, N30.6 billion; Defence, N27.7 billion; and Interior, N25.6 billion.
Essentially, the finance minister said: “The thrust of the 2009 budget is to improve basic infrastructure (power and transportation), security, human resources, services in education and health with a view to improving living conditions and creating employment.”
The National Assembly will receive a total of N7 billion in capital allocations which comprised mainly N2.2 billion for the Senate and N3.8 billion for the House of Representatives.
FG Bans Aircraft Without ELT Beacon
The Federal Government of Nigeria has said that beginning January 1, 2009, any aircraft without the latest Emergency Locator Transmitter (ELT) 406, will not be allowed to operate in Nigeria. According to the directive, no aircraft will be registered or granted certificate of airworthiness without installing the device.
The decision was made known in Abuja by authorities of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) at a meeting of stakeholders called by National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), to review the search and rescue operation during the crash incident of the ill-fated Beechcraft 1900-5N JAH Wings Aviation Aircraft, which disappeared over Obudu in Cross River State, in March 15, 2008.
The ELT is a digital devise that sends out signal in distress situation. A statement issued by NEMA's Head of Press and Public Relations, Mr Yushau A. Shuaib, noted that the meeting discussed challenges encountered during the operation, with a view to averting a recurrence and improving speedy reactions in case of similar occurrence in future.
NEMA's Director General, AVM Mohammed Audu-Bida (rtd), in his opening remark, admitted that the time lag during the last plane crash created a lot of uncertainties, and expectedly, there were a lot of pressure from the government and the public. The inadequacies in the search and rescue operations was quite evident with regard to the crashed Beechcraft.