Cabotage Fund Stood At N31bn, Disbursement Begins Soon- NIMASA DG

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NIMASA, Director-General, Dr Dakuku Peterside

The Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) says it has concluded necessary documentation needed for the disbursement of the Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund (CVFF), currently estimated at more than 100 million dollars (N30.7 bn).

The Director-General of the agency, Dr Dakuku Peterside, made this known in Abuja at a News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) Forum. Peterside said that the fund came into being with the promulgation of the Coastal and Inland Shipping (Cabotage) Act 2003.The fund, derived from two per cent deductions from every contract awarded, was meant to help grow the capacity of indigenous ship owners’ intention and also provide the needed capital for them to acquire vessels.

He confirmed that, the minister has made regulations but with benefit of hindsight, we are looking at the regulations again. You will recall that there was a ship acquisition and ship building fund which is a precursor to the Cabotage fund.

We have seen those funds and how they were operated and we have identified a few lacunas here and there.

And so we want to do is to look at the guidelines again to ensure that we tighten certain knots and be ready to accommodate only credible ship owners, credible entrepreneurs so that they can access the funds, apply the funds for what it meant for and build capacity in terms of vessel acquisition. That is what we are doing with the CVFF fund. It’s there, we are trying to review the guideline and as soon as we review the guideline we will ensure that credible people have access to it. We believe that it will help them acquire more vessels and build capacity.

On the specific amount, Peterside said: What I can say is that we have about 100 billion dollars in the funds account. This is as specific as we can get right now because the figures keep changing on a daily basis.

He was however noncommittal on when disbursement of the fund will start. Nobody can say one week, two weeks, three weeks. But as soon as we complete the process of the review of the guideline and get the necessary things in place we should be able to disburse the Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund.

Meanwhile, the NIMASA DG has said that a national carrier is being developed with a view to boosting freight haulage and creating job opportunities. It would be recalled that a Committee for the Actualization of the National Carrier was set up by the Ministry of Transportation. Pacific International Lines (PIL), a Singaporean company, is expected to own 40 per cent of the stake, private Nigerian ship operators are expected to own the other 60 per cent. National Carrier is indeed a status conferred on a shipping line by a country. In our case the law says on the recommendation of NIMASA to the Minister of Transport, you can be designated a National Carrier and what distinguishes a National Carrier from others is the set of incentives you enjoy when get designated a national carrier. What actually we are developing is a Nigeria Flag National Fleet and in this particular instance, the model that we are working on is for private investors to bring their funds and the Federal Ministry of Transportation is a facilitator of the Nigerian fleet or the Nigerian owned National fleet or indigenous fleet.

In our case, we have identified a core investor, Pacific International Line as core investor of the proposed National Fleet. Why are we in the business of National Fleet? Because it comes with a lot of advantages that nobody can ignore. The first and most important one is that it provides opportunity for people who are skilled to be employed. It provides opportunity for our people to receive requisite training. It also enhances revenue that we earn through the maritime sector. So those are some of the advantages aside from National pride that we convey most of our cargo, is also an advantage.

Peterside said the agency was also working on a set of incentives that would make it attractive for people to invest in the indigenous shipping line.

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