…Targets single digit interest rate for indigenous operators
The Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA, yesterday began moves for its planned the cessation of Cabotage waivers in the next five years, in a move which its Director General; Dr Dakuku Peterside said is aimed at building capacity and growing the Nigerian maritime industry.
Peterside said this on Wednesday in Lagos at the stakeholders consultative meeting for the cessation of Cabotage waivers.
Speaking on the five years phased strategic plan for cessation of grant of Cabotage waivers, NIMASA’s Director General said the agency in talks with the Nigeria Customs Service, the Central Bank of Nigeria and the Federal Ministry Finance to consider a single digit interest rate for Nigerians to acquire vessels.
Peterside also said that besides the single digit interest rate, NIMASA is also looking at getting incentives for ship owners so as to enhance their operations and businesses.
The NIMASA boss said that cessation of Cabotage waivers was long overdue adding that NIMASA has heard the cry of stakeholders affected by the waivers that the agency was on the same page with them (stakeholders).
Peterside maintained that the maritime industry has the potential of creating a lot of jobs, even as he fingered finance as the major challenge.
On the single digit rate, he said: "The reason is simple, the gestation period for the maritime industry is a bit long and because it’s long, the lifetime of an average vessel is 50years. So you cannot finance it the way you finance an assets that will yield returns within five years"
"And so we need them (banks) to understand how it works in our industry and so with that level of engagement, we believe that very soon, there is a possibility that the CBN will create a single digit interest facility accessible to our local operators"
He said that with proper funding local operators can compete favourably with their foreign counterparts.
"When they (local operators) are able to assess this, we believe that they will be able to compete with their foreign counterparts and create jobs for our people. So in the area of owning vessels we are looking at tax incentives, single digit interest facility we are also looking at a number of incentives", he added.
“We are determine to bring to an end the waiver regime so that Cabotage will flourish in Nigeria so that Nigerians can benefit from Cabotage trade” he stated.
He explained that when the agency suspended the issuing of waivers for six months, it literally doubled the employment of Nigerian seafarers by simply publishing and enforcing the new Cabotage enforcement strategy.
He stated that maritime industry stakeholders have agreed with NIMASA that it is possible to stop Cabotage waiver regime.
He said “We are desirous of disbursing the Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund, CVFF, to crash interest rates for our local players to support them to acquire more assets so that we will have more Nigerians own assets in the industry and make them relevant to the Cabotage regime, create employment for our people, create wealth and create limitless opportunities for our people.”