NIMASA, Customs move to check abuse of temporary import permit on vessels
The Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) and the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) have agreed to join forces to close loopholes in the Temporary Importation Permit (TIP) system, which importers often exploit to avoid payment of levies due to the government.
Bashir Jamoh, director-general of NIMASA, stated this recently in Abuja when he visited the Comptroller-General of Customs, Hameed Ali (rtd).
Jamoh said the temporary import permit issue was one of the biggest challenges faced by the maritime sector, which has denied Federal Government huge revenue.
According to him, foreign ship owners bring in their own ship and after one year, they will take it back to their country and import it back with a different name, and this is not beneficial to Nigerian ship owners.
He said that Cabotage trade, which falls within the core functions of NIMASA, was suffering as a result of the abuse of the temporary import permit.
Jamoh said the Merchant Shipping Act provided that vessels used in importation should be registered with the Nigeria Ship Registry, but in most cases, the foreign ship owners do not. He called for greater synergy between NIMASA and Nigeria Customs, and indeed, all agencies in the maritime sector, to address pertinent issues and improve the sector.
Jamoh appreciated the efforts of the NCS under Ali to curb smuggling in the country and enhance revenue generation.
Ali spoke in a similar vein, saying it is important for the Customs and NIMASA to develop a common platform for dealing with problems arising from the TIP.
Ali pledged the commitment of the service to pooling resources with NIMASA to address the highlighted issues hindering the growth of the sector. He said there was need for both agencies to design a common framework for tackling the issues.
Ali said such approach would ensure that if Customs register a ship and gave it a Temporary import permit, NIMASA would also have records of that registration on its own platform.
According to him, the synergy should be based on ICT. “NIMASA IT staffs need to synergise with ours to develop a platform that will create that collaboration, such that everything we record or register will reflect in your own record.”
He said the Customs was in the process of launching two patrol boats that would go beyond the creeks, to enhance maritime security.
“It is my hope that we will strengthen the relationship and increase the synergy between us as maritime operators, and, most importantly, to ensure that not only the revenue aspect is improved, but also to secure our waters,” Ali added.