‘Indigenous shipowners yet to leverage incentives for vessel acquisition’
The Director General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Dr. Bashir Jamoh, said the incentives provided by the Federal Government to indigenous shipowners are yet to be exploited to acquire vessels.
He warned that Nigeria could lose the major gains of the huge investments in the Lekki Deep Seaport if the indigenous stakeholders do not take advantage of the incentives to acquire vessels to partake in global trade.
Speaking at the Shipowners’ Association of Nigeria (SOAN)’s end-of-year dinner in Lagos, Jamoh said the Federal Government approved zero duty for imported new vessels with older ones attracting higher duty.
Added to this, he said, is the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN)’s monetary incentive that guarantees forex at the official rate for ship acquisition plus the Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund (CVFF) recently approved for disbursement.
The NIMASA boss assured shipowners that the agency, under his leadership, would sustain all efforts to ensure a conducive operating environment for indigenous shipowners, saying no shipping country will thrive without being supported by the government.
Speaking on CVFF, Jamoh asked interested stakeholders to liaise with Aminu Umar of the Nigerian Shippers Association (NISA) to help build fleets for the nation.
Worried about the different opposing views that have marred the CVFF over the years, he wondered what the ship owners wanted.
According to Jamoh, foreigners are milking the country because they have the capital to come into the country with their ships to make and take the money away.
He said it was high time stakeholders came together and ensured they benefit from what God has given them and stop foreigners from taking over the coastal trade.
He assured of transparency and merit in the CVFF disbursement, insisting that neither NIMASA nor the ministry will bear any liability in the whole arrangement.
“Anyone getting this fund will get it on merit, mutual understanding, and based on the agreement with the bank and NIMASA,” he stated.
Jamoh further dismissed fears that the CVFF was being diverted to other ends and not being fully declared, stating that “in terms of the amount in the CVFF, public funds are statutorily subjected to audit every year and the CVFF is not exempt.”
“It is subject to audits of the auditor-general’s, Federal Ministry of Transportation and external auditors, so it is open. Instead of fighting to see the balance, concentrate on seeing how we can disburse what is available, increase our fleet and benefit from this very precious trade.
“All the investments at Lekki deep seaport will be useless if ships do not go there. So, why don’t we put heads together, get the funds, acquire the ships and make our ports lively instead of struggling to quarrel and fight?” he asked.