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By NBF News
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Maritime and international trade stakeholders, who met at an industry forum in Lagos on Wednesday to harness their inputs on the new Customs and Exercise Management Act (CEMA) have recommended that the powers to regulate international trade, issue of waivers and control of warehouses and manufacture of excisable goods, among others be retained by the President and the Minister of Finance.

The Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) seeks autonomy, including control of waivers and determination of importable goods in a new CEMA Bill, which has been passed by the House of Representatives and is now on the floor of the Senate.

Representatives of the Lagos Chamber of Commerce, Customs, Seaport Terminal Operators, Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), freight forwarders and agents at the forum said the power of the President as contained in Cap 45 of 2004 Customs Act should be retained as the new bill tends to transfer this power to Customs.

'Global best practice principle is that it is the president of the country that has power to designate any area as seaport, airport and border stations-section 12 of CEMA, cap 45; power to prohibit goods being imported or exported-section 24 of CEMA, Cap 45 and Section 48; power to make regulations on postal articles-section 79 (2) and power to prohibit coastwise carriage of goods-section 155.

'Power of the Minister of Finance to regulate international trade, the economy and investment as well as control of warehouses and the manufacture of excisable goods-spirit, beer-should be retained,' the Chairman of freight forwarders arm of the Lagos Chamber of Commerce, Julie Ogboru said.

The critical industry players claimed that in all countries of the commonwealth of which Nigeria is a member, in the USA and Malaysia, among others, it is the Minister of Finance that regulates the economy, international trade and not the customs which is an implementing agent of government policies, stating that 'the powers of the President and the Minister of Finance should therefore be preserved by the new bill.'