FOREX FLUCTUATIONS: ANLCA threatened Strike Action, Asked FG to Fixed Exchange Rate for Importation

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By Innocent Orok

The Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) has threatened to shutdown the ports if the Federal government does not find a lasting solution to instability in foreign exchange rates for importation, especially the Dollar which according to the freight Agents is affecting their businesses and Nigerians.
The association made this known in a world press conference on Thursday in Lagos.

The National President of ANLCA, Mr Emenike Nwokeoji while addressing the media said the colossal economic losses resulting from the persistent fluctuation of the exchange rate for importation is very worrisome as it does not allow for proper planning.

The association warned that it would explore strategic partnerships with the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC), Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria (MWUN), among other labour unions to ensure that they shutdown activities at the port , the government does address the issue.

Nwokeoji said though they held a meeting with the Management of the Nigeria Customs Service too address the issue, but the Service is not in position to address the issue, except the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

“The issue of foreign exchange rates in relation to the Naira has become somewhat intractable that we as the mouthpiece of the Customs brokers/freight forwarders in Nigeria can no longer afford to be silent.

“It is a well-known fact that Nigeria’s trade has a predominant foreign exchange content and Nigeria being an import-dependent country, the effect of any exchange rate distortions can be devastating. Our major concern is about the exchange rates being used in computing import duty and other charges payable on imports,” Nwokeoji said.

According to him, elementary economics teaches that no country can afford to allow her currency to be subjected to the law of supply and demand without hurting her economy, adding that the more pressing issue is the constant and upward changes in the exchange rate for Customs trade purposes creates a state of confusion.

Also speaking at briefing, the Chairman, Board of Trustees (BoT), ANLCA, Alhaji Taiwo Mustapha, warned that, if the fluctuations in Customs duty for importation continues ANLCA will be forced to engage trade unions including; NLC, MWUN, among others in a move to shutdown the nation’s ports.

“As at Tuesday, the exchange rate has jumped to about N1800/$ in the parallel market and the average trader who purchases products have to source this. The implication is that the trader who incurs the cost and pays more from Customs duties, the products will be inflated at the Nigerian markets,” Mustapha said.

He also observed that ANLCA has engaged the leadership of Nigeria Customs who explained the level of engagements Customs have done with the Ministry of Finance and that of Trade and said he is optimistic the issues will be resolved.

The ANLCA leadership however suggested that to address the challenges in the forex fluctuations, the government should fixed a period ( at least six months) for a fixed Forex rate for import purposes before it can adjust it, as this will allow for proper planning.

A former National President of ANLCA, Sir Ernest Elochukwu also advised the Federal government to hide to the voice of the Clearing Agents for them to remain in business and to alleviate the sufferings of Nigerians , which is becoming that of a failed state.

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