The Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarding in Nigeria (CRFFN) has called on eligible freight forwarders to update their bank account records and registered phone numbers, with the council to facilitate timely disbursement of dividends from the Practitioners’ Operating Fees (POF).
This call comes even as CRFFN addresses the delays in POF payments, which have faced scrutiny from freight forwarders and their associations.
Shipping Position Daily recalls that the management of the National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF) had earlier ordered for the suspension of the payment of POF following controversies surrounding the statutory remittance of the five per cent dividends to freight forwarders and associations by CRFFN.
The CRFFN claimed to have remitted a five per cent declarant payment for six months to all compliant freight forwarding associations and individuals. However, freight forwarders under the aegis of NAGAFF faulted the claim, even as they insist that they are yet to receive any money from CRFFN for over two years of paying POF into the coffers of the Federal Government.
However, in a chat with the Acting Registrar of CRFFN, Mrs. Chinyere Uromta, she cited various challenges, including discrepancies in account details and a 40 per cent deduction introduced by the federal government in favour of the Consolidated Revenue Fund (CRF) in October 2022, as reasons for the payment delays.
Uromta explained that the Council encountered challenges due to incorrect account details provided by some declarants. She said while two months of arrears were already paid to associations, individual payments were delayed due to discrepancies in their phone numbers.
The Acting Registrar informed that the 40 per cent deduction had impacted the council’s ability to maintain regular payments. According to her, this had led to a shortfall in available funds for disbursement.
“I saw in the media after the visits of the Federal Ministry of Transportation to freight forwarding associations that some freight forwarders alleged CRFFN of owing them their incentive called Declarant fee. When I assumed my role in February, there was a productive town hall meeting where freight forwarders voiced their concerns, particularly the issue of non-remittance of declarants’ share of POF by CRFFN. I informed them that before the deduction, the Council had been disbursing funds to declarants.
“My former registrar tried. He paid. But along the line, in October last year, this 40 per cent deduction came. By the time all those things, we had very little to run the council. So that was what hindered the regular payment of the declarant. I made it known to them during that town hall meeting; assuring them that their file is on the table and we are compiling the arrears and when we are done with that, the new ones will start. But we had glitches as well. Some of their account details did not rhyme. So we didn’t want to pay into the wrong hands.
“But to cut the long story short, we have started after the move to offset; we have paid two months to associations. But why we have not released that of some individuals is because of the discrepancies in their account numbers and we are trying to reach them to come and verify so that when we pay if they get it right”, she explained.
To address this issue, she urged all eligible freight forwarders to review and update their registered bank account and phone numbers with the council in order to access their entitled dividends from the POF.
While commending stakeholders for their resilience, Uromta acknowledged that it was essential to create conditions that incentivize declarants to participate in the programme, emphasizing the collective importance of these funds for both the Council and the national GDP.
She pledged the Council’s commitment to fulfilling its obligation to declarants, both in terms of arrears and future payments, adding that this process would be gradual.
“The council is poised and committed to their payments and even the arrears. But it has to be gradual. It is their right and we are saying yes to that. We will try to live up to it” Uromta concluded.