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Discordant Tunes Over Disbursement Of $124m Cabotage Fund

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There are discordant tunes among indigenous shipowners as the federal government disclosed its readiness to review guidelines for the disbursement of the Cabotage Vessel Finance Fund (CVFF) worth $124 million to qualified operators. The CVFF which is made up of two per cent surcharge for all contracts under the cabotage regime, came into effect in 2004 by virtue of the Coastal and Inland Shipping Act (Cabotage) 2003, had not been disbursed in the last 18 years. The Cabotage Act, which was closely modeled after the United States of America’s Jones Act 1938, was to help develop the capacity and participation of indigenous ship owners in coastal inland trade which was largely dominated by foreigners. LEADERSHIP recalls that the minister of transportation, Rotimi Amaechi on Tuesday said he would summon stakeholders to an urgent meeting to address the shipping community’s concern over the government’s continued inability to disburse accruals into the CVFF. The minister, who represented President Muhammadu Buhari as the special guest of honour at a public book presentation titled: Harnessing Nigeria’s Maritime Assets – Past, Present and Future, authored by the executive director, finance and administration of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Mr. Bashir Jamoh, said that the government understands stakeholders’ yearnings for the review of the disbursement guidelines of the fund. However, the unjustifiable failure of the government to disburse the fund with accruals of over $124 million, is said to be not only the cause of the inability of the indigenous shipping
companies to participate in international cargo freightment, but also stifles development of local capacity.

While the President of the Nigerian Shipowners Association (NISA), Alhaji Aminu Umar welcome the review of guidelines, the former chairman of the Nigerian Maritime Expo (NIMAREX), Prince Ayo Adedoyin questioned why government is reviewing the existing guideline set by previous administration. Umar said, “Reviewing the CVFF will solve something and we believe it will be a starter for the disbursement of the CVFF. The position is that since people are generating more, the CVFF is being generated. “The minister called for a stakeholders’ meeting and I was in the meeting. We have discussed together with the board of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) and it was agreed that we will sit down together within the next one or two weeks to come up with a proper guidelines that will be submitted to the minister in the interest of all the stakeholders.”

On his own part, Adedoyin asked what happened to the guidelines that were set before by the previous administration saying it is a fresh plot to deceive shipowners. The former NIMAREX chairman also asked whether the fund can be used to renegotiate loans in banks. According to him, those who may benefit from the disbursement are those who didn’t contribute to the fund. “We can’t just continue to lie to ourselves about what is going on in the industry because majority of the people who will benefit are not the people who actually suffered to contribute the money and that is the truth because majority of the people who call themselves shipowners now are not part of the story,” he said.



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