Shipowners urge Federal Government to disburse $100m CVFF fund
Concerned operators and the ship owners in Nigerian maritime sector have urged the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) on behalf of the Federal Government to disburse the $100 million Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund (CVFF) to aid their operations.
The operators spoke at a cocktail parley for stakeholders in Ship and Maritime Infrastructure Financing organized by the Nigerian Ship Finance Conference and Exhibition (NISFCOE) in Lagos.
A Ship-owner and former President of Trawler Owners Association, Mrs. Margaret Orakwusi, said it is wrong for government to keep holding on to the CVFF fund. Rather, she advocates that the fund be used as seed money to set up a maritime bank.She said: “CVFF does not belong to the Federal Government, it is our money, the government is only to monitor it, but they are now squeezing life out of us”
Former Director-General of NIMASA, Barr. Temi Omatseye, said that the Minister of Transport needs to be properly guided on how to draw attention of financial institutions to benefits of supporting shipping trade in Nigeria. According to him, changing the terms of trade from FOB to CIF would only require a presidential order.
Director-General NIMASA, Dr. Dakuku Peterside, however assured Nigerian ship owners that the agency is making frantic efforts to disburse the CVFF in line with set down regulations.
Peterside, who represented the Honourable Minister of Transportation, Rt. Hon. Rotimi Amaechi said that the fund which is currently over $100million is seating with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) due to the Treasury Single Account (TSA) policy.
He said that in line with its cargo support initiative for indigenous practitioners, the agency is already getting the support of the presidency to change the Nigerian terms of trade from Free-on-Board (FOB) to Cost insurance and Freight (CIF). He however lamented that many Nigerian shipowners are not ready to take advantage of the opportunity when it finally arrives.
Peterside identified lack of debt facility from Nigerian banks and high interest rates as major challenge confronting Nigerian shipowners. He vowed that NIMASA is ready to crash the interest rate in order to allow Nigerian shipowners compete favorably against their international counterparts.
His words: “We are determined to disburse CVFF according to the law and according to regulation, we are dedicated, we are committed and we are passionate about disbursing it.”
Convener of the Nigerian Ship Finance Conference and Exhibition, Mrs. Ezinne Azunna said that the parley was held in preparatory to the actual NISFCOE conference 2017 billed to hold in November 2017.
She noted that the Nigerian maritime sector although endowed with huge potentials cannot be called a maritime nation because it lacks ships and many other maritime infrastructure. She said that one of the aims of the conference is to look at how to raise money to acquire ships by bringing the regulators, banks and the private sector together to design a way-out.