The Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry on Tuesday picked holes in the provisions of the Nigerian Postal Services Bill 2021 recently passed by the Senate and charged the lawmakers to amend some of its provisions in view of their negative implications for the courier services industry.
The President of the Chamber, Mrs. Toki Mabogunje, during the July 2021 media conference on the State of the Economy, said having taken a critical look at the Bill, the group was seriously concerned about several provisions of the bill that are detrimental to private sector investment in the courier industry.
Specifically, the leading industrialist listed some of the group’s concerns about the Bill to include but not limited to the requirement for Licensees to Contribute 2 per cent of Annual Turnover– Section 68 (2) (b); Exclusive Powers of the Public Postal Operator – Section 10 (1) (a), (b), (h), (j) and (r); and the Duties of the Public Postal Operator – Section 9 (1) (n).
She explained: “Section 68 (2) (b) of the Bill requires licensees to contribute 2 per cent of their annual turnover to the Universal Postal Service, (UPS) fund.
This provision is most unfair to courier companies, many of which are struggling to survive. Turnover would include companies’ debts (some of which the courier companies may not be able to collect).
“Besides, these companies currently pay numerous taxes which include Company Income Tax, VAT, levies by various states of the federation, Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria and airport charges, throughout charges by FAAN pension funds and NSITF, NHF, local government charges, signage fees of various states, amongst others.
The industry is currently beset with a variety of taxes at national and sub national levels”, the LCCI President said.
On the Exclusive Powers of the Public Postal Operator – Section 10 (1) (a), (b), (h), (j) and (r), she noted that the Bill provides that the Public Postal Operator would have exclusivity over the following: collecting, accepting, processing, conveying and delivering postal articles weighing up to 1kg.
Others are delivering postal articles with tariff of less than five times the rate of postage applicable to the particular weight class; receiving, dispatching, transporting, distributing and delivering electronic materials, palliatives and other relief materials and products during national emergencies and be given free access at all times during periods of restriction of movements.
Mabogunje said that the Chamber proposed that the above provisions should be expunged from the Bill.
Also, on the Duties of the Public Postal Operator – Section 9 (1) (n) of the Bill which provides that the Public Postal Operator may without warrant, enter and search a building or carrier, including aircraft, vehicle or container, which he has reason to believe is connected with the commission of an offence.
The OPS group proposed that this provision be deleted as it should be the responsibility of the regulator (i.e the Commission) and law enforcement agencies.
The LCCI boss listed other matters for consideration by the lawmakers in the bill as relating to the need to provide material clarity to any third-party investor in the sector and also establish confidence in investors when allocating resources within the postal sector.
According to her, the LCCI proposes that clarification be provided on the following issues: distinctions in terms of preparation of regulations and subsequent enforceability and the relationship between the Nigerian Postal Commission, the Postmaster General and the Public Postal operator, adding that is there any independence between the Nigerian Postal Commission and the Public Postal Operator and if so, can this be articulated in the Bill?
The chamber also sought clarification on how different is the current administrative arrangement relating to regulation and enforcement from the proposed new structure with the Nigerian Postal Commission and with its proposed newly established board?
To ensure that the Bill, when enacted into law would impact on the courier industry positively, the Chamber urged the National Assembly to properly engage courier sector investors in further deliberations on the Bill in order to save the courier business from complete collapse.