Again, Buhari approves disbursement of $350m Cabotage Funds
President Muhammadu Buhari has approved the immediate disbursement of $350m Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund (CVFF) to indigenous ship owners after 17 years of waiting.
The Minister of Transportation, Muazu Sambo, made the disclosure, yesterday, at the flag off ceremony of the third phase of the Nigerian Seafarers Development Program (NSDP) TERRA 2, held at the Naval Dockyard, in Lagos.
Sambo said the disbursement would take place in a few days, adding that approval will break the 17-year-old jinx that has hindered the expansion of the shipping industry.
The president had in 2019 and 2021 approved and directed the disbursement of the CVFF, through the former Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, but for administrative purposes, it was delayed, as stated by Sambo.
“Finally, we are breaking the 17-year old jinx. We have made a case that the fund belongs to the Nigerian ship owners and the president, who is a respecter of the law, therefore approved the disbursement of the fund with immediate effect. We will disburse this funds in days to come to the beneficiaries deserving of it,” he said.
Sambo who said that he would approach the Minister of Finance and Budget Planning, as well as the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) for the immediate disbursement of the fund, assured that even the CVFF Fund, which has hit over $350m is warehoused in the Treasury Single Account (TSA) of the Federal Government, and would be transferred to the approved primary lending institutions with immediate effect.
He disclosed that five primary lending institutions have been approved for the disbursements, which are Union, Polaris, Zenith, UBA and Jaiz banks.
He said that the banks were selected based on the criteria set out in the guidelines for disbursement of the CVFF, which was anchored on the Cabotage Act and guidelines as approved by the National Assembly.
Sambo said the banks were recommended to the president and approved based on the guidelines, which clearly stated that the applicant of the fund will make equity contribution of 15 per cent, Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) 35 per cent and 50 per cent will be provided by the banks.
The minister said other additional requirements or eligibility would include, off taking of the beneficiaries, which is likely going to be an issue.
Sambo further noted that the NIMASA Director General, Dr. Bashir Jamoh, must do the needful for the immediate disbursement of the funds once he gets the formal letter of approval from the Ministry of Transportation.