Maritime Bank Bill Passes Second Reading At House Of Reps    

The Bill for an Act to establish the Nigerian Marine Development Bank has scaled the statutory Second Reading at the House of Representatives.The bill, which seeks to empower the proposed bank to carry out the business of marine credit insurance and for other related funding intervention, is sponsored by Hon. Mohammed Gololo (APC, Gombe). While leading debate on the bill, Gololo noted that it has become necessary to create a financial institution saddled with the responsibility of improving access to long-term loans and insurance for investors.Supporting the bill, chairman of the House Committee on Ethics and Privileges, Hon. Ossai Nicholas Ossai, (PDP, Delta) said that a fully functional Maritime Bank would lead to consistent investment in the sector, which would be of benefit to the Niger-Delta region where a large number of maritime companies will operate from.He added that a well-funded maritime sector would lead to many job opportunities in the region even as it would reduce youth restiveness. Also contributing to the bill, Hon. Betty Apiafi (PDP, Rivers) stressed that a vibrant maritime sector was critical to the Federal Government’s success in its push to diversify the economy.She posited that the establishment of the Maritime Bank would help sustain businesses in the sector while relieving the government with the burden of dealing with huge budget deficit annually.Apiafi pointed out that other development financial institutions, including the recently created Development Bank of Nigeria were more involved with assisting Small and Medium Scale Enterprises, hence the need to establish an institution that can provide funding for large scale investments.“If we are truly want to diversify the economy, we need to look at long term funding for sectors which have the potentials of diversifying the economy”, she stressed.Also supporting the bill,  the House Minority Leader;  Leo Ogor said the bank would provide Nigerian investors with the much needed funding to make them major players.According to him, the Bill to establish a bank to finance the maritime sector is the kind of legislation that secures the future of the country, especially now that there a consensus on reducing government’s heavy reliance on oil revenue.But, disagreeing with calls for the Bill to scale through, Femi Fakeye said commercial banks and some other financial institutions provide tailor made packages for different sectors, maritime sector funding inclusive.“We need to ask ourselves if we need to establish a bank for every sector”, Fakeye said.When Speaker Yakubu Dogara put up the bill for a voice vote, it was unanimously adopted by members.The Bill was then referred to the Committee on Banking and Currency as well as the Committee on Maritime Safety, Education and Administration for further legislative action.