The Federal government in collaboration with the National Assembly has concluded plans to address some of the challenges faced with the importation of charitable materials into the country.
The minister of transportation, Hon Rotimi Amaechi said this on Thursday at a “Stakeholders’ Consultative Forum On The Ease Of Shipping And Clearing Of Charitable Items" held in Lagos.
The forum was organized by the office of the Deputy Senate President in collaboration with the Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC).
Speaking at the event, the Minister of Transportation, Mr Rotimi Amaechi said that the forum was to discuss the challenges aid material face in the ports logistics chain, especially the issue of demurrages and rent charges paid on materials while waiting for clearance.
Amaechi who was represented at the event by the Deputy Director, Inland Container Depots, in the ministry, Mr. Victor Ewate acknowledged that donor goods enjoy duty waivers.
"We are aware that these aid items enjoy duty waiver, but however experiences have revealed that the process of obtaining duty waiver on these items takes time and such delays translate to accumulated demurrages and rents on the items", he said.
Amaechi added that the gathering will enable stakeholders brainstorm on how to improve the procedures for shipping and clearing imported aid materials.
Also speaking the Deputy Senate President, Senator Ovie Omo-Agege who was represented at the event by his Special Adviser on Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) Affairs, Princess Modupe Ozolua, maintained that the abuse do not just come from businessmen alone, but also from NGOs.
He reiterated that the abuse also affects the nation's neighbours whose consignments come through the country.
"This is critical because as it seems, import waivers on charitable items have been misused and abused, not just by businessmen but also by some non-governmental organizations and civil society organizations"
"Further, it is also evident that these anomalies do not only affect Nigeria, but also some of our neighbors whose consignments of charitable items come through Nigerian ports"
He also said that from investigations there are lack of proper communication among agencies.
"So we have been studying acts of different agencies that have to do with this because if you don't understand the root of a problem, you will not be able to come up with realistic solutions"
"So we realise that there are so many agencies that are doing the same thing. And there is no synergy between them that they share information. So when you come up with new, how will they know about it", he stressed.
Omo-Agege charged the gathering to come out with Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) for the shipping industry on shipment of charitable. goods
He nevertheless said that the ability to easily import charitable items into Nigeria is one of the major challenges faced by the non-profit sector and must be urgently addressed in the interest of all Nigerians.
Meanwhile in his goodwill message, the Executive Secretary, NSC, Mr Hassan Bello said that the essence of the gathering was to deliberate on how to transmit charitable to their final consumer without difficulties.
He however charged the National Assembly to make laws and regulations in that regards.
He narrated an experience that the Council had with shipment of transit cargo. "I remember two years back, Niger Republic was given some cargo and NSC was to make the exit, we faced some challenges", he said.