- Says NIMASA protecting ship owners’ interest
- President, Nigerian Chamber of Shipping (NCS), Mr. Andy Isichei, the Chairman, Nigerian Shipowners Forum, Mrs. Margaret Orakwusi, and chairman of occasion, Mr. Joe Igbokwe (SAN), at the second Nigeria Ship Finance Conference and Exhibition (NISFCOE) in Lagos…Tuesday
By Chidubem Anthony
Contrary to the industry-wide belief that the contributory Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund (CVFF) could singularly fund vessel acquisition, thereby heightening stakeholders’ agitation for its release, the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) has insisted that the fund has only $115 million.
Speaking in Lagos at the second annual Nigeria Ship Finance Conference (NISFCOE), NIMASA Director-General, Dr. Dakuku Peterside, said the clarification became necessary as different figures were being bandied, adding that the CVFF “has the capacity to crash the cost of fund for the sector,” as the agency works to increase local content and capacity.
According to Peterside, NIMASA is committed to protecting the interests of indigenous ship owners for sustainability, job and wealth creation, and healthier Gross Domestic Product (GDP), adding that this will forestall a scenario where foreigners might withdraw their services someday, leaving the nation in difficulties over such services it could not provide for itself.
In his contribution on the conference theme, “Advancing Ship and Maritime Infrastructure Financing in Nigeria: Innovative Concepts and Sustainable Approaches,” Peterside said that support for indigenous ship ownership obviously meant keeping many in their jobs, growing tonnage, growing the national economy, creating wealth and reducing forex scarcity and capital flight.
Therefore, NIMASA, as a regulator, was mindful of the economic matrix and has gone out of its way to also ensure the protection of shipowners’ interest by engaging the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Nigeria Export Import Bank (NEXIM), and Afri-Exim Bank based in Cairo, among others, as well as engaging the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) to reduce the tariff for vessel and vessel parts importation.
“We are determined to work with the Ministry of Transportation to disburse the CVFF because we believe that it has the capacity to crash the cost of fund for the sector.
“We are also putting in place a lot of institutional framework so that these things will not just be ephemeral and transient but sustainable. The least we ask for is the support of ship owners and stakeholders in the sector.”
Earlier, NISFCOE convener, Mrs. Ezinne Azunna, had described ships as assets to any nation, for which reason maritime nations have always consciously paid attention to funding the available heavy infrastructure in the sector.
Insisting that the maritime sector could significantly boost the nation’s GDP, Azunna said the benefits of developing the sector, therefore, outweighs the necessary cost and sacrifice.