The House of Representatives on Thursday raised the alarm over how indigenous shipping companies are shortchanging the federal government of revenue amounting to $300million (N10.8billion).
The alarm was raised by the House committee on Maritime Safety, Education and Administration which is investigating allegations of non remittance of revenue and ill practices perpetrated by local shipping companies.
According to the House committee, revenue amounting to $300million from the three per cent levy collected on behalf of the Nigeria Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) from international shipping companies have been diverted by their local agents.
Chairman of the House committee, Rep. Umar Bago, said at the resumed investigative hearing yesterday, that while it was common on the part of shipping firms to receive the three per cent levy on behalf of NIMASA from their parent companies, regrettably the local partners convert such monies to their personal use.
He added the local shipping agents at times change their corporate names, directors and decline to remit the collected funds to the nation’s consolidated fund account.
Rep. Bago said that “you collect monies from international shipping companies, sit on the money, change your company names and directors, and do business with the funds without remitting to the consolidated revenue fund”.
12 local shipping firms, some of which have denied the allegation of wholesale indebtedness to government are currently being investigated by the House.
The indigenous shipping firms are GAC, Daddo Maritime Services, Blue Sea, Divine Marine, Transoceanic Support Services, Inchcape Shipping and Maersk.
Others are AlRaine, Hull Blyth CMA CGM- Delmas, Joe Eboje and Peak shipping.
However, in their testimonies before the committee, the shipping companies denied being indebted to NIMASA as alleged, claiming that reconciliation of debt profile with the regulatory agency was continuous.
According to the firms some payments made to NIMASA were not receipted, a development they said has jeopardized the reconciliation process.
But piqued by the revelations at the hearing, the committee vowed to invoke Executive Order 6 and issue a warrant of arrest on the chief executive officers of any of the erring companies, who may have made away with the country’s monies and those who declined to honour and appear before the House panel.
Moreover, it further warned that firms indicted will be handed to the Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC) for prosecution.