The Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, (NIMASA), has disclosed that it had so far shortlisted 11 companies to benefit from the Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund (CVFF).
Director- General, NIMASA, Dr Bashir Jamoh, made this known in a statement made available to newsmen on Saturday, in Lagos.
He noted that following the agency’s advertisement for banks to express interest in the disbursement of the CVFF fund, four primary lending banks had also been shortlisted.
According to him, NIMASA had made presentations to the Ministry of Transportation asking to oversee the four primary lending institutions, as required by law, to come up with guidelines on the disbursement.
Jamoh said that the Treasury Single Account (TSA) policy had affected the timely disbursement of the fund.
He explained that the proceeds of the fund was owned by the federal government, contrary to speculations that the money belonged to the shipowners.
“The CVFF account is not under NIMASA’s control, in the sense that it cannot use the money. It must go through a process and that is why we have not been able to disburse the fund.
“With the way the Cabotage Act of 2003 is designed, disbursement from primary lending institutions as stated in the act, cannot happen now, because the operations of TSA in all government agencies accounts now comes from TSA.
“We now must adapt to a system where we can operate from the TSA and that is the process we are going through now.
“The CVFF account has two components. There is a dollar and naira component. As of the time we came into office, over a year ago and now, we have over N32 billion in naira and $209 million in dollars.
“As it is, even if we want to do anything with or through the CVFF, we will have to apply for and get approval before doing anything, “he said.
The NIMASA DG noted that the country was also projecting to achieve a zero-duty rate on importation of new Nigerian flagged vessels, as part of incentives for indigenous shipowners and targeted at discouraging importation of rickety ships into the country.
Jamoh said NIMASA was engaging the Federal Ministry of Finance and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to develop the incentives for shipowners, to enhance their competitiveness, and hoped to get the President’s approval in no distant time.
“We have made two submissions. The first one has to do with fiscal incentive for stakeholders and this is a relief package for them if they import a vessel.
“We encourage government to give us approval so that anybody that brings in brand new ships would attract zero duty.
“The second part has to do with monetary incentives, and we have made our presentation to the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and they have responded that we should sit down with stakeholders.
“We will now also graduate and produce the type of monetary incentives we want,” he said.
He added that after the process, stakeholders would be asked to come up with the specifications of vessels they want to procure.