The Nigerian Postal Service (NIPOST) a few days ago announced the approval of New Courier and Logistics Regulations. These new regulations were said to be approved by the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Isa Pantami.
The new regulations are an indication of a radical upsurge in the logistics and courier business to the eternal harm of small players in the industry.
These adjustments have been met with strict resistance from the Nigerian populace regarding it and rightly so as an attempt to bully out the small business and frustrate the small players.
To understand better what the new regulations propose, it would be broken down below seriatim what it implies.
By the new regulation, to do delivery and logistics business in Nigeria, it now entails that –
1. You can no longer register a business name for it. It has to be a Company Limited by Shares.
The evidence that the minimum authorised share capital was accordingly picked and paid for has to be filed.
It flows naturally that there should be concerns why NIPOST requires proof of a companies share capital when the regulatory body (CAC) conveniently sees to most of these as necessaries before incorporation. No matter how inconvenient or unnecessary it appears, it is now a requirement.
2. A Business Plan and Company profile must exist and same would be forwarded to NIPOST for vetting and approval.
Being players in the Logistics and delivery business, suspicions of purloining and snaffling ideas from other players especially the small players cannot be totally written off.
3. Companies must have an Updated tax clearance. Already existing companies must have filed annual returns to be able to get the tax certificate. The Tax clearance for companies that are up to date costs about N30,000 or so with the FIRS. (Unconfirmed).
4. The applying Company must have facilities on ground and an office. The idea that small business can now run with just an online presence has naturally had the veil over it with this regulation.
5. The company Must have an insurance policy with a recognized institution.
6. The company must pay N20,000 for Application form and Regulatory Guidelines.
7. The applying company will obtain a courier Licence
8. The company will also pay fees between N250,000 – N20,000,000 depending on your business scope.
Despite all these charges,,Logistics and delivery companies will by some magic look for a way to keep their prices Low lest they lose their customers who are largely small businesses and have the ever growing taxes in Nigeria to meet up.
In a nutshell, NIPOST is calling on the small players in the delivery business to look elsewhere for a venture to go into – they are screaming loud and it is becoming deafening that this is their turf and intrusion will not be allowed.
In what would be a promising ray of sunshine, the Minister of communications has taken to twitter to deny knowledge of these Regulations, to inform the general public that they are a drastic departure from the Federal Governments approval and to demand an explanation from NIPOST.
What must not be lost on us is that these Regulations have been discussed and that no matter how postponed, doomsday looms for the small players in the Logistics business.
This reminds us of the most notorious fact that the Government seems to forget at all times; Government has no business doing business. As long as Regulators continue to venture into the same line of business over which they superintend, they will always make policy to keep themself afloat.
It must be mentioned that NIPOST are not in the wrong legally to test the waters with these regulations, it is within their Legal purview to do so. The expectation was however that at a time when globally, SMEs are being encouraged to thrive, NIPOST could look away from these emerging companies to allow them roots as it will overall reflect on our nations economy positively in the future.
But NIPOST is in the business and amongst many suspicions, the fact that these regulations are a survival move for them cannot be ruled out. This is why the Nigerian Legislature must go to work on the NIPOST Act, unbundling NIPOST to create a regulatory body separate from the one today in business or taking from them the very idea of doing business – which ever sails the ship of Nigeria.
This country must also realise that our pathetic financial problems can be solved with building small businesses up, not taxing them to the ground.
So much for the ease of doing business. So long.
Kamo Sende Esq. is a Kano based Legal Practitioner and rights activist.