The National Assembly yesterday passed a bill seeking to establish a trust fund, referred to as Cabotage vessel Financing Fund.
The National Assembly also established the Maritime Security Operation Coordinating Board.
The Trust Fund is meant to promote the development of indigenous ship acquisition, shipbuilding, ship repair and capacity development of providing financial assistance to Nigerian operators in the coastal and inland commercial activities.
According to the bill, 5 per cent of the fund shall however be earmarked and applied to the Maritime Security Fund for maritime safety and security.
The House of Representatives Committee on Maritime had recommended that the board should establish and maintain a fund, which shall be provided by the federal government from time to time, while 1 per cent of funds derived by Maritime Fund accruing to the NIMASA under the NIMASA Act.
Also, proceeds of sales, by auction of forfeited vessels or goods, gifts, loans, aids and such other assets that may from time to time specifically accrue to the Maritime Security Fund.
The recommendations were passed and yesterday received concurrence of the Senate. The House had in a landmark move, passed an amendment to the act establishing the Maritime Operations Coordinating Board, to allow the Navy access one percent of the Maritime Fund, to better address its funding challenges.
The amendment reconstitutes the board and includes the navy as a member. That way, the navy would also be allocated one percent of the fund derived by Maritime Fund, accruing to the Nigeria Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) under its establishing Act.
The chairman of the committee on Maritime Safety, Education and Administration, Hon. Mohammed Umar Bago, presenting the report, said the navy would now be able to enhance its capacity to better police the Maritime environment and protect the Nigeria’s maritime territorial integrity.
He added that the amendment became necessary in the face of dwindling budgetary allocations to the Navy, and the urgent need to properly funded.
“The passage of this amendment, is a sign of our commitment, working with the House Committee on Maritime Safety, Education and Administration, to ensure better funding for the navy, considering its economic benefits to securing Nigeria’s waterways and make the country more resilient to internal and external aggression,” he said.
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