The Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, has alleged that the Ministry of finance is obstructing the disbursement of the $200million Cabotage Vessels Finance Fund (CVFF).
Speaking on the sideline of the ministry’s 2021 retreat in Lagos on Friday, Amaechi confirmed that President Buhari has approved the disbursement of the fund, but disclosed that the minister of finance, Zainab Ahmed, protested against the disbursement on the ground that public fund should not be disbursed to private operators.
The minister said, “the president made approval saying go ahead and disburse, and the attorney-general said go ahead, the law says its a private fund but the minister of finance, Zainab Ahmed protested that it is a public fund and cannot be spent, so what will I do?”
The CVFF was established under the Coastal and Inland Shipping (Cabotage) Act, 2003. The law empowers the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) to disburse the contributory fund to Nigerian ship owners through select financial institutions with the sole aim of increasing indigenous ship acquisition capacity. Disbursement of the is, however, subject to the approval of the Minister of Transportation upon recommendation by NIMASA.
Shipping Position Daily recalls that, the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) had in March 2021 confirmed that it had got the approval of President Muhammadu Buhari to disburse the Fund to qualified indigenous maritime operators.
Amaechi consequently advised shipowners to take their destinies in their hands and protest to the president.
The minister said, “the owners of the fund should write to the president and copy me, then I will go back to the president. The law says it’s not a public fund, now that they are aware they should write to say we are aware of the approval, and we are aware of the protest by the minister of finance and if I have all these, I will go back to the President,” he said.
He also assured that with the commissioning of the Deep Blue Project, vessels unable to visit the eastern ports can now do that without fear of any attack or hijack.
“Since we launched the equipment for the security architecture, we are now monitoring to see how much improvement and this is going to reduce because there is presence of equipment and human being managing them,” Amaechi added.
“I said we will address the issue of security in the maritime sector because the reasons why vessels are not able to go to Port Harcourt, Warri and other places is because of the high cost of insurance.
“High cost of insurance is as a result of insecurity, so if we address the issue of insecurity which is the root cause, then, the high cost of insurance will reduce and more business will go to the South-South where we have other seaports.
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