Nigeria woos international maritime investors with special tax, safer waters

  • NIMASA Director-General, Dr. Dakuku Peterside right), exchanging pleasantries with the Chief Operating Officer Upstream, Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Bello Rabiu (left), while the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Transportation, Sabiu Zakari, looks on at the Offshore Technology Conference (OTC) ongoing in the U.S.

By Chidubem Anthony

Nigeria is considering a special tax regime for investors in the its maritime sector to grow industry capacity, even as the Federal Government has assured the international oil and gas community of safe waters for investments.

This was disclosed to newsmen on the sidelines of a technical workshop on deep sea exploration during the ongoing Offshore Technology Conference (OTC) in Houston, Texas, by the Director-General, Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Dr. Dakuku Peterside.

Peterside said the agency has commenced regulatory reforms to ensure a business-friendly maritime environment for both foreign and indigenous investors to spur economic growth, according to a statement by the agency’s Head of Corporate Communications, Isichei Osamgbi.

He assured the international community that NIMASA was committed to growing in-country capacity to enable foreigners collaborate with Nigerian without fear of compromising standards. He stated: “We are building capacity and creating the right regulatory framework for the Nigerian maritime sector

“We believe that our three-dimensional approach of creating the right regulatory environment, providing easy asses to capital, building capacity, and facilitating access to business opportunities will hasten indigenous capacity development.

“Regulation ought not stifle businesses; regulation ought to support business and spur economic growth without endangering the environment and the people.”

On cabotage implementation, Peterside said the agency was in talks with the Ministry of Finance and the Nigerian Customs Service (NCS) to create a special tariff regime for those importing vessels and parts into the country.

According to him, “at the moment, a temporary import permit mainly granted foreigners attracts just 1 per cent, but importing vessel by Nigerian attracts 13 per cent, so it is difficult to compete.

“We are engaging the Nigeria Customs Service on the need to review this regime. We have also made appreciable progress in our discussions with the Central Bank of Nigeria to see Nigerians in the maritime sector have access to single digit facilities so they can compete favourably with international peers.”  

On his part, the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Transportation, Sabiu Zakari, said that Nigeria was aware of the drift towards deep sea exploration, therefore government was already considering some policies to enhance effective maritime transport.

Citing the recent report by the International Maritime Bureau (IMB) that piracy declined in Nigerian waters in the first quarter of 2019 as proof of efforts at safety and security in the sector, Zakari stated: “Nigerian waters are safe.

“NIMASA deep blue project, in collaboration with the Nigerian Navy and all other security agencies in Nigeria, is already in motion and will use the latest technology to track all vessels in Nigerian waters and reduce criminality to the barest minimum.

“Foreigners with genuine business interest are welcome to invest in Nigeria. So many have come and are enjoying benefits of their investment.”

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