Indigenous shipowners under the aegis of the Shipowners Association of Nigeria have kicked against the proposed merger of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, the Nigerian Customs Service and the Federal Inland Revenue Service by the Federal Government.

President Bola Ahmed Tinubu Policy Advisory Council has recommended the declaration of a state of emergency on revenue generation in the country.

The council also proposed the merger of FIRS, NCS, and the NIMASA into the Nigerian Revenue Service in order to enable an efficient collection of all direct and indirect taxes, as well as levies on behalf of the Federal Government.

According to submissions made by the National Economy Sub-Committee, the policy will be aided by the passage of an Emergency Economic Reform Bill which will grant the President special powers to drive the economic reform agenda and support the delivery of sustainable and inclusive economic growth.

However, reacting to the move, the President of SOAN, Mkgeorge Oyung, in a telephone conversation with our correspondent, said there was a need for the economic advisers to seek stakeholders’ advise on the move.

“You cannot do that, NIMASA is an instrumentality of International Monetary Organisation under the auspices of the United Nations. It is not done, that is stupidity. If they do that, it means they are completely sea blind, they do not have knowledge of maritime industry and they should ask stakeholders,  it is not wishful thinking. It is a serious business and biggest business in the world.”

According to him, NIMASA is not only an agency of the Federal Government but also an international agency.

“So our position is that we at SOAN are disturbed by the advice the economic advisers are giving to the president. The shipping industry is a worldwide trade that has a very big space in the World Trade Organisation. Without shipping there is no global economy and therefore NIMASA as an agency of the Federal Government is also an international agency of the IMO under the auspices of the United Nations. NIMASA’s mandate is not only national but international and controlled by the UN.”

Onyung said that the revenue that comes from NIMASA is supposed to be used purely for the development of maritime affairs.

Also speaking, the National President of the African Association of Professional Freight Forwarders and Logistics of Nigeria, Frank Ogunojemite, said merging the three agencies of government would encourage corruption and create unnecessary bottlenecks.

He added that the president must not fail to assemble experts to x-ray economic policy.

“President Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s administration must not fail to assemble experts to x-ray every economic policy to know how best it would benefit the country before its implementation. He must not sacrifice good governance on the altar of nepotism, we need round pegs in round holes if at all we sincerely need to progress as a nation. I believe that the council means well but the merger will not yield positive results”.

Ogunojemite said the process required could become cumbersome.

“The policy will impede ease of doing business as process requirements could become cumbersome. The policy can as well negatively affect the African Continental Free Trade Agreement and even jeopardise the single window policy of the Customs.” the APFFLON president said.

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