The Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry has urged the President, Bola Tinubu, to stop the revenue leakage of more than $5bn paid annually as freight to foreign shipowners.

LCCI in a position paper on current matters of national economic developments signed by its president, Dr Michael Olawale-Cole, obtained by the PUNCH, said the move would help to address revenue leakages.

The LCCI also frowned at the recent bid by the Federal Government to merge the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, Federal Inland Revenue Service, and Nigeria Customs Services into the Nigerian Revenue Services.

Olawale-Cole advised the government to ensure that implementing the proposed merger did not impede the ease of doing business.

He said, “While we commend the government on some of its recent measures to stop wasteful spending, we urge the administration to halt the revenue leakage of more than $5bn paid as freight to foreign shipowners. The chamber’s perspectives are in tandem with the government’s need to check the over-bloated and inefficient workforce of the Ministries, Departments, and Agencies.

“Regarding the merger, we are willing to nudge the government to embrace critical stakeholders’ engagement and consultation, which we hope will provide further insights into charter-specific responsibilities and possibilities.”

Olawale-Cole reiterated its support to the government in curbing the rising cost of governance and its readiness to declare a state of emergency on revenue generation.

He, however, cautioned the government to ensure that the proposed merger did not impede the ease of doing business.

Olawale-Cole said, “We understand the government’s arguments on the proposed merger, which borders on improving efficiency in collecting all direct and indirect taxes and levies. The LCCI supports the government’s desire to curb the rising cost of governance, its readiness to declare a state of emergency on revenue generation, and its resolve to tackle them headlong.

“The government should ensure that implementing the proposed merger does not impede the ease of doing business. It would also be necessary for the government to ensure that the fallout of the proposed merger, such as staff rationalisation, realignment of operating structure, accountability, and transparency, are adequately dealt with.”

Olawale-Cole commended the government on the recently released Executive Orders, which were expected to curb arbitrary taxation policies.

He said, “The Finance Act (Effective Date Variation) Order 2023, Customs Excise Tariff (Variation) Amendment Order, 2023, Suspension of the Five-Percent Excise Tax (Telecommunications Services) Order, and the Excise Duty Escalation (locally manufactured products) Order, 2023 are most welcomed.

“While the Finance Act 2023 defers the commencement date of the changes contained in the Act from May 23, 2023, to September 1, 2023, the Excise Tariff (Variation) Amendment Order shifts the date for the commencement of the tax changes from March 27, 2023, to August 1, 2023. These new dates align with the 2017 National Tax Policy, which provides a 90-day minimum advance notice.”

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