Nigeria losing qualified seafarers to unfriendly tax, pension policies, says NSML

  • President, Shipping Correspondents Association of Nigeria (SCAN), Eguene Agha (left), Manager,  Maritime Centre of Excellence and Training, NSML, Dr. Effiong Ekanem-Attah, Head, Media Relations and Corporate Communication, NLNG, Mrs. Anne-Marie Palmer-Ikuku, Managing Director/CEO NLNG Ship Management Limited, Mr. Abdulkadir Ahmed, Fleet Manager, Nigeria LNG Limited (NLGN) and NLNG Ship Management  Limited, Capt. Hambali Yusuf, and Human Resource Manager, NSML, Mr. Henry Agbodjan, during the SCAN Annual Conference on ‘NLNG Vessels: Movement and Challenges’ in Lagos Wednesday

By Anthony Nwachukwu

Contrary to the practice globally, only Nigerian seafarers pay taxes on their salaries when they sail for over seven months, the Nigerian Liquefied Natural Gas Ship Management Limited (NSML) has said.

NSML Fleet Manager, Capt. Hambali Yusuf, who disclosed this in Lagos during an annual conference of the Shipping Correspondents Association of Nigeria (SCAN), stated that likewise, the nation deducts pensions from the seafarers in dollars but pays them back in naira.

His disclosure followed a similar one by the NSML Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer, Abdulkadir K. Ahmed, over the global paucity of qualified and competent officers in the maritime industry.

In his keynote address at the conference on the theme, “NLNG Vessels: Movement and Challenges, Ahmed cited industry sources as pointing to “an increasing demand for qualified seafarers, particularly the officers, and this situation is expected to persist into the future.”

He stressed that “diminishing attractiveness of a career at sea, coupled with rising man-berth ratios and a continued fleet growth is likely to result in the highest shortfall of officers in the coming years.”

On his part, Yusuf regretted during the event’s panel session that the nation was losing so many seafarers and revenue to foreigners due to Nigeria’s avoidable unfriendly tax and pension policies as they affect seafarers.

He warned against the overall negative implications of a continuance of these practices, while restating the need for advocacy “to let the government know what is obtainable elsewhere. Some international seafarers don’t border for pensions.

“If you are a seafarer and you see where you can go and be paid fully without deducting tax, you would like to go there.”

According to Yusuf, in India and other countries that exempt seafarers from tax, “if you are not in the country for seven months, you won’t pay any tax. But in Nigeria, if you are not around for a whole year you are still going to pay tax and you know the taxes depend on your grade.”

Earlier in his welcome address, the SCAN President, Mr. Eugene Agha, described gas as not only the future of global energy exploration and usage but also Nigeria’s huge source of revenue and employment, in view of its vast deposits in the coastal region.

Therefore, “changing trends in the global energy sector demands a corresponding improvement and updating of the knowledge and skills of the media practitioners,” he stated.

“This will help them to continually avail stakeholders the opportunities and risks inherent in this sector, which can attract more enabling legislation to reposition it, tackle challenges and pull healthier competition and more gains.”

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