APFFLON WRITES PRESIDENCY TO STOP PLANNED INTRODUCTION OF ‘FORM M’ AND PAAR ON AIR CARGOES
By Mcanthony Onuoha
Africa Association of Professional Freight Forwarders and Logistics of Nigeria (APFFLON) has written a letter to the Vice President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria,Prof.Yomi Osinbajo, GCON, opposing the planned introduction of ‘Form M’ and Pre- Arrival Assessment Report (PAAR),for Airport Cargoes.
In a letter with the reference number APFFLON/HQ/VP/000/20,dated 9th of June, 2020, addressed to the Vice President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, with the caption, COMPLAINT ON THE ECONOMIC IMPACT OF THE INTRODUCTION OF ‘FORM M’AND PRE- ARRIVAL ASSESSMENT REPORT (PAAR) FOR AIRPORT CARGOES ; THE NEED TO STOP THE PLANNED MOVE, and reads in part,” we, as frontline freight forwarders practicing in Nigerian ports,write His Excellency to highlight the economic dangers posed by the Nigeria Customs Service’ planned introduction of the novel cargo clearance procedures which include opening ‘Form M’and PAAR at the airports, that the introduction will in no mean measure, not only disrupt the system but obviously deal a dazing blow on the Executive Order to the Ease of Doing Business by hindering trade facilitation.
In the letter signed and made available to the media by the National President of APPFLON, Otunba Frank Ogunojemite, which was also copied to The Ministry of Finance, The Central Bank of Nigeria(CBN), Nigeria Customs Service (NCS),and Nigerian Shippers Council (NSC), the association informed the Vice President that Customs, perhaps, on the directive of the Federal Ministry of Finance, has concluded plans to stop the current system, which is a faster process known as Procedure Code 4900, saying that the planned new development was unveiled to Freight Agents by Customs at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA) on Friday, the 5th of June, 2020.
The Association went further to say that ” while the Finance Ministry may have genuine reasons for the decision,the introduction of PAAR at airports on EVERY consignment would lead to delays in the delivery of very essential, time bound and fragile Cargoes, and also loss of man-hours, as well as huge demurrage charges “.
Furthermore, the association pointed out that consignments that are mostly on urgent demands like medical equipment, important production materials for manufacturing companies, essential raw materials, as well as Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). Unlike the Seaports,these air Cargoes lack the durability and toughness to face the attendant delays caused by bureaucratic procedures that the generation of ‘Form M’ and PAAR usually undergo, lamenting that air freight forwarders would be facing challenges of paying exorbitant charges as storage to the ground handling companies by the introduction of ‘Form M’ and PAAR because of its attendant delays.
Meanwhile,the Association went further to say that air cargo sector was already overburdened having been made to pay higher charges for storage of consignments to ground handling companies as Nigerian Aviation Handling Company (NAHCO) PLC, and Skyway Aviation Handling Company (SAHCOL), insist on the payment of demurrage charges for consignment that arrived during the lockdown.
By the reckless resolution of NAHCO and SAHCOL to indiscriminately increase their charges, the nation, particularly those operating at the airports that are dependent on such services, would suffer colossal charges and delays if ‘Form M’ and PAAR are allowed as part of the prerequisites for air cargo clearance, insisting that since aviation consignments are mostly fragile, essential and of urgent demands,” we implore you to kindly use your good office to persuade the ministry of finance and the Customs Service to jettison plans to introduce this fiscal policy that can affect Ease of Doing Business in Nigeria”.
However, APFFLON recommended the review and streamlining of challenges with the Code 4900 platform, and the engagement of stakeholders, particularly freight forwarders,on the need to comply with the expeditious 4900 system.
In conclusion, APFFLON thanked President Muhammadu Buhari led Federal Government for measures taken so far to curtail spread of Covid-19 and promised that its members would continue to take all precautionary measures to stop the spread of the viru,s as well as pledged the support of its members across the country to the government and its relevant agencies in the ports, in order to achieve its objectives, especially in the areas of revenue generation, safety, trade facilitation among others.