Experts in the maritime industry have expressed fear over the panned disbursement by the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) over the planned disbursement of the controversial Cabotage Vessels Financing Fund (CVFF) in October 2020, they also called for a comprehensive review of the CVFF component of the NIMASA Act.
Shipping Position Daily recalls that at recent media parley, the Director General of NIMASA, Dr. Bashir Jamoh had raised hope on the disbursement of the fund before the end of 2020.
But reacting to this, a former DG of NIMASA, Barrister Temisan Omatseye in a chat with our correspondent last week, expressed fear that with the current guideline, it will be difficult for the CVFF to be disbursed in October.
“If they have plans to do that, if the guidelines that are presently in use right now is the one they are going to use, it will be very difficult for them to disburse and the law says there must be a guideline and they have to operate under a guideline and the one that has been released has one part of the main act which is a subsidiary legislation meaning they cannot go outside those guidelines”, he pointed out.
Omatseye however said that the discrepancy between the guideline and the financial guideline has been the major reason the fund is yet to be disbursed, adding that the whole guideline has to be changed for the fund to be properly disbursed.
“The reasons for lack of ability to disburse these funds are because the guidelines do not tally with the financial guidelines of the banks or other means of disbursing the funds. So we have to change the whole guidelines for the disbursement and how they want to do it, I don’t know; except they decide that they want to go and cancel the whole guideline and then bring a new guideline. They might have a strategy in place that is what I cannot tell”
According to him, “the disbursement is a welcomed development, but it will be worse if one doesn’t now know how to disburse, I cannot support any disbursement when I do not know how the plan will be”, he stated.
Also speaking, a member of the Nigerian Indigenous Ship Owners Association (NISA) Captain Taiwo Akinpelumi said that there are lots of things that need to be corrected in the guidelines before the CVFF can be disbursed properly.
Akinpelumi who expressed satisfaction with the desire of NIMASA to disburse the fund however explained that from inception, stakeholders were not involved in the guidelines.
“If you are looking at the challenges;they are enormous, looking at the guidelines there are lots of things that are supposed to be corrected as far as the guidelines for the disbursement of the fund is concerned. Of course you know that from inception the way the guidelines were actually put in place almost left so much to be desired, because from inception stakeholders were not involved in the creation of the guideline for the disbursement of the CVFF”, he pointed out.
He also advised that the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) should be allowed to disburse the fund, instead of giving it to commercial banks to handle the disbursement.
“That is the major challenge, but like I always say particularly I am of the opinion that the fund is with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) it will be very good for us to see that the disbursement takes place from the Central Bank for instance”
Akinpelumi, also called for a review of the guidelines before the commencement of the disbursement.
“That might to review the guideline because, I actually thought that if the fund is to be disbursed in October, any amendment in the guideline should be taken to the National Assembly. Of course we have made our position, a situation whereby aviation intervention is given directly from the CBN, even other sectors of the economy actually get direct disbursement from the CBN”
Meanwhile, a maritime lawyer, Mr. Emmanuel Nwagbara expressed happiness about the disbursement, even as he opined that the fund should be properly utilized.
Nwagbara however advised that the fund should not be given to individual companies, adding that they should come together and float a company to be able to assess the fund.
“My idea of that fund is that it should not go to individual companies, the stakeholders should come together and float a special purpose company that will acquire vessels and it will be run like a business that is owned by a corporate body. I am not a fan of an individual company taking the CVFF to float his own company, the money belongs to Nigerian stakeholders in the maritime industry; contributed by ship owners who make their living out of the commonwealth of the stakeholders in the Nigerian maritime domain”, he stated.
He said that, the government should look at the interest the fund is going to serve before disbursing it, adding that the company to be floated should be managed as a corporate entity.
“And that special purpose vehicle will be used to access the CVFF and then a ship will be bought and managed as a viable company to be run very well and not by a crony or relatives of the owner who will eventually run it down, experts would be hired to run the company and make profits and there are lots of prospects for that company”
“In trying to disburse this, the government should look at the interest to be served it should be at the interest of the stakeholders in the maritime industry. Every stakeholder in the maritime industry should be a partaker of the fund and should be given the chance to buy equity in a special purpose vehicle that will be set up to assess the fund and be part of it” he said.
Also speaking a financial analyst, Mr. Vincent Nwanni said: “My challenge is that I don’t want that initiative being coordinated by the federal government and if there is any way they can allow the private sector to take over, it is will be good.
“Because this type of project if it is in the hands of the government, will not see the light of the day due to inherent bureaucracy and vested interest. It is important we will find a way to address the implementation mechanism, without the government and allow the programme to be monitored by NIMASA. CBN alone cannot handle the disbursement; all the CBN programmes are actually handled by commercial banks”, he concluded.