- Some of the bank chiefs – Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of Polaris Bank, Adekunle Sonola (left), Deputy Managing Director of Zenith Bank, Adaora Umeoji, and the Group Managing Director of UBA, Oliver Alawuba (right), with the Minister of Transportation, Mu’azu Jaji Sambo, after the meeting in Abuja
By Anthony Nwachukwu
Barely three months to the expiration of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration, the Minister of Transportation, Mu’azu Jaji Sambo, has called for key stakeholders’ concerted effort to quickly disburse the Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund (CVFF).
Since the administration came to power eight years ago, beginning with the former Minister of Transportation, Chibuike Amaechi, it has been one failed assurance of disbursement of the fund after another, with different hurdles aimed at securing the money making the assurances sound more political than real each time.
Sambo spoke in Abuja during a meeting with heads of the selected Primary Lending Institutions (PLIs) – Polaris Bank, UBA, Union Bank, Zenith Bank and Jaiz Bank, as well as the Director-General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), managing director of Shipping NNPC and others.
He reiterated Buhari’s approval of the immediate disbursement of the CVFF through the five selected PLIs.
According to him, “the President also approved that the 2% charge that makes up the cabotage fund should continue to accrue to the CBN Treasury Single Account (TSA) and each time the account hits $50 million, the minister of transportation should, on the recommendation of NIMASA, direct the CBN to release the amount to any of the five banks for disbursement.”
Noting that it has taken 17 years to get presidential approval for the disbursement, Sambo charged the key stakeholders to expedite action on the necessary details to facilitate the quick disbursement of the funds.
“We have received the approval of the President to disburse the funds. It is now left for the key players to actualise the approval by the President,” a statement from the ministry’s Director, Press and Public Relations, Henshaw Ogubike, quoted him to say.
Sambo said the maritime sector would be a major income earner for the country if properly managed, adding that it was fulfilling for him to lead the historic process of disbursing the CVFF.
Section 44, Part VIII of the Cabotage Act 2003 provides for the establishment of the CVFF while a 2 per cent deduction on cabotage-protected trade earnings goes into the savings for the development of indigenous tonnage (ships) in Nigeria.
The bankers and other critical stakeholders had hours of closed-door deliberation after the minister’s remark, to chart out a clear course for the final disbursements in the coming days.
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