It’s no longer news that the Nigeria Postal Reforms Bill has reached 2nd reading at the National Assembly, but industry players, majorly the independent operators under the umbrellas of the Nigeria International Air Courier Association (NIACA) and the Association of Nigerian Courier Operators (ANCO), are not satisfied with some provisions in the bill.
TechEconomy.ng’s investigations show that Postal Reforms bill is one of the oldest in the Nigeria’s national assembly and has suffered setbacks since 2004.
The bill aims at establishment of a regulatory framework for the Nigerian Postal Industry and for such purpose, to create an effective, impartial and independent regulatory authority.
Members of the national assembly, in their wisdom, seek to leverage on the bill to promote modern, universal, efficient, reliable, affordable and easily accessible postal services with the widest range and coverage throughout Nigeria.
Ultimately, the bill is expected to encourage local and foreign investments in the postal industry and the introduction of innovative services and practices in the industry in accordance with international best practices and trends and the creation of a framework for digital and financial inclusion and engendering national security through verification, authentication and validation of addresses, amongst other aims and objectives.
As beautiful as the aims and objectives of the bill seem, why are members of NIACA and ANCO not satisfied with some provisions of the Bill?
Speaking during a joint press conference on Monday, August 30, 2021, the leadership of the two bodies protested strongly about potential threats, wrongs and/or injustices certain clauses pose to the smooth operations in the industry, particularly now that investors are losing money even as most players are now moribund.
They said that the current version of the bill at the House of Representatives, has not addressed their concerns as it does not capture their representation during the public hearings and meetings at different levels of government.
To this end, NIACA and ANCO clearly declared their stand on the Postal Reforms bill currently being passed by the law makers.
Mr. Oladipo Akinyele, chairman of Nigeria International Air Courier Association (NIACA), said that as an Executive Bill, the Presidency and the lawmakers should consider the peculiarity of the environment in discharging regulatory tactics.
Pointing out the grey areas which they perceive as inimical to the development and growth of the industry, Akinyele said that mandating courier operators to remit 2% of their annual turnover to the government, amounts to sentencing some courier operators to death as the economic realities on ground shows they can’t meet up with the provision.
“With declining margins and running cost, this law would definitely run courier operators out of business and lead to massive job loss within the industry”, he said.
The Chairman of Nigeria International Air Courier Association (NIACA) said that operators are willing to work with best practice where 1% of net profit is remitted annually or the government can introduce 2% postal contribution which would be borne by consignor.
The operators also faulted a provision in the bill which issues of exclusivity for the Nigerian Postal Service (NIPOST) to handle consignments weighing upto 1kg.
They urge the government put into consideration safe and efficient logistics as well as maintain a level playing field to allow for competition and not monopolize that aspect of the business.
On his part, Mr. Okey Uba, the President, Association of Nigerian Courier Operators (ANCO), raised a dossier on ‘Licensing’.
According to him, the operators wonder why government, through this act of legislation, intends to treat them unfairly.
He argued that it will be unfair for government, as contained in the present Postal Reforms bill, to cancel the licence of existing operators on the grounds of reform as presently contained in the bill.
Uba further urged the government to consider recertification in order to keep them in business.
The President of ANCO also hinted on ‘Stamp Duty’, stressing that considering the nature of their business could be voluminous.
He said that the Postal Reforms bill ought to have captured a digital approach which would make compliance a lot easier and efficient.
The two notable interest groups in the postal industry appealed to the government to rethink the bill as they believe that such would compound the unending circle of problems already bedeviling the sector where thousands of jobs are in the line.
They complained about declining margins due to cost of doing business, poor infrastructure, cost of funds, FOREX rate, power and security among other challenges stifling the industry.
NIACA and ANCO reiterated that the agitation to improve and better the industry has been a long standing battle and that as far as engaging government is concerned the associations have been very present and open to dialogue.
Whereas they have written several letters and had countless meetings without much impact, they are hoping that the government can go back to the drawing board and embrace ideas that would encourage inclusion and favorable market conditions for all stakeholders.
Also present at the press conference are; Mr. Michael Umo, chief operating officer (COO), UPS (Nigeria); Dr. Sola Peter Obabori, group managing director, Red Star Express PLC; Mr. Muyiwa Adesiyoju, managing director, DHL (Nigeria); Mrs. Tolu Omamadaga, general secretary of ANCO; Mr. Toyin Adeojo, treasurer of ANCO and Mr. Dayo, legal adviser.