• Tuesday, June 18, 2024
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BusinessDay

New forex regime will boost cargo throughput at port, says Ports and Cargo boss

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As the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) commences the implementation of a flexible foreign exchange policy in the country, port industry stakeholders have continued to commend the new initiative, which they say will have positive impact on port business.

The new flexible foreign exchange (forex) regime, recently adopted by the Federal Government, would result in a stable growth in the maritime sector, says Mohammed Bulangu, acting managing director, Ports and Cargo Handling Services Limited (PCHSL), a subsidiary of SIFAX Group.

Recall that as part of its determination to boost the nation’s economy, CBN recently adopted a foreign exchange policy that allows commercial banks transfer foreign currency in customers’ domiciliary accounts to their local and international business partners subject to a daily cumulative limit of $10,000.

The new policy is coming at a time when the port industry has suffered from long ebb of business activities resulting from federal government’s strict foreign exchange policy in the past, global downturn and fallen of crude oil price in the international market. These factors have resulted to low volume of imported cargo in the nation’s seaport as well as low revenue generation for both port operators and the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS). 

While reviewing the impact the new policy would have on the country’s maritime industry, Bulangu noted that it signifies a new dawn for both the port terminal operators and their clients, particularly importers, who had experienced a great deal of difficulties in sourcing foreign exchange for their business transactions in recent time.

“The federal government’s new forex policy is a welcome development. Prior to this, importers found it difficult to get dollars to do their businesses and this greatly affected almost all the stakeholders in the industry, especially the port operators, as there was a sharp decline in throughput and as a consequence, loss of revenue,” he stated.

He further explained, “Within these few weeks of implementing the new forex policy, the signs are already there that the sector would gain tremendously. More activities are now returning to the terminal, which is a good sign for us as terminal operators and the country’s economy as a whole.”

Bulangu affirmed further that the outlook for the sector in the second half of the year is very positive; adding that with the expected surge in throughput volume and increased revenue, the sector is well positioned to contribute substantially to the country’s economy.

“The maritime sector has the potential to be one of the mainstays of the Nigerian economy, just like Rotimi Amaechi, the Minister of Transportation said recently, the sector should be providing about a quarter of the nation’s annual budget. I believe it is achievable and the new forex policy is a step towards achieving this,” he added.

Uzoamaka Anagor-Ewuzie