Cabotage fund stuck over regulation technicalities
• Fund Politicised — Jamoh
Over $200 million contributed by indigenous ship owners operating in Nigeria may have been stuck in the Treasury Single Account (TSA) until the regulation guiding the disbursement is reviewed.
Indigenous ship owners who spoke at a stakeholders’ forum organised by Alumni of Maritime Academy of Nigeria Oron (AMANO), with the theme, ‘The State of the Nigerian Maritime Domain in 2022 and Beyond,’ in Lagos, disclosed that not a dime has been disbursed from the fund.
The CVFF was established under the Cabotage and Inland Shipping (Cabotage) Act of 2003, to provide finance to indigenous ship owners to maintain their vessels or purchase new ones.
The CVFF is an accumulated fund from the contribution of two per cent of contract value by indigenous ship owners.
The ship owners called for a forensic audit of the controversial CVFF to determine how much has accrued since the inception of the funds before it was moved into the Treasury Single Account (TSA) of the Federal Government.
As of 2019, the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, said the fund was about $200 million.
Chairman, Starz Investments Company Limited, Greg Ogbeifun alleged that proceeds from the CVFF may have been tampered with, and as a result, there is a need to have a forensic audit.
Apparently speaking the mind of ships owners, Ogbeifun, who is also a shipowner, said that despite the non-disbursement, operators have continued to contribute two per cent of their contract values into the fund.
According to him, there is a need for appropriate guidelines for the disbursement of the fund as demanded by the Act taking into cognizance of the Treasury Single Account (TSA).
He added that Amaechi has the responsibility to develop guidelines for the disbursement of CVFF, adding that nobody can touch the fund until new guidelines are out.
“Under the former guidelines, the contributions of the fund were going into the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) and NIMASA was warehousing the money into commercial banks, but when there is a change of government, the fund was transferred into TSA,” he said.
He said, existing guidelines can no longer be accessible and there is a need to review the guidelines to take cognisance of the fact that the money is now in government coffers, adding that the law has to be changed before the money can be disbursed.
In his goodwill message, the Director-General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Dr. Bashir Jamoh said that CVFF is politicised, but assured that the fund would be disbursed.
He explained that the issue of audit is part of the statutory requirement and that, the NIMASA account must be audited by the Audited General of Federation on yearly basis.
“Auditor General of Federation does audit the fund every year. Nobody can touch the money. It is in TSA account. Nine banks applied, and we have shortlisted and sent them to the appropriate quarters.
“If anybody tries to touch that money, the person is breaking the law. There are technical issues, but we will continue to push until it gets disbursed. Upon all these, we will not rule out the fact that the issue of the CVFF is politicised,” he added.
President of AMANO, Mr. Emmanuel Maiguwa said, with the advancement of ideas and technologies disrupting leading industries all over the world, it has become imperative that as leaders and players in the maritime industry of Nigeria, stakeholders must optimise all available resources and think outside the box to ensure that the Nigerian maritime industry is abreast and at par with standards and best practices all over the world
He noted that the theme, maritime domain in 2022 and beyond, seeks to promote synergy between members, agencies, and stakeholders towards offering sustainable solutions to the challenges of the maritime domain as well as encourage intellectual and emotional ties between the academia and practitioners in the maritime industry.