The House of Representatives has finally approved the 2009 budget estimates and proposals of the Nigerian Ports Authourity (NPA), even as indications emerged that the agency is hoping to rake-in a whooping N117 billion during the 2009 fiscal year.
The budget was passed last week by the House committee on marine transport under the chairmanship of Honourable Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi at a meeting between the committee and top management of the agency in Abuja.
Shipping Position Weekly recalls that a similar exercise in 2008 saw the managing director, Malam Abdusallam Mohammed appearing before the committee four times, but a source close to the committee told our correspondent that “it was a lot easier this time as NPA appeared only twice”.
Before calling for a motion to approve the budget, the chairman of the committee had expressed satisfaction with the performance of the budget for the 2008 fiscal year and declaring that the body has “generally found the overall performance satisfactory”.
Consequently, the motion for its approval was moved by Honourable Chinedu Eluemuno and seconded by Honourable Bala Na’Allah.
With last week’s approval, the stage is set for a similar exercise at the Senate which we are told will soon come up. The Senate committee on marine transport is headed by Senator Gbemi Saraki.
The managing director had reportedly told members of the committee that the budget estimates were premised on the urgent need to provide major infrastructures for rapid development of the nation’s seaports, in order to enhance their performance.
He explained that the agency was determined to tie the implementation of the provisions of the budget to the realisation of the Federal Government’s seven- point agenda, so as to make the nation’s seaports as competitive and efficient as other major ports in the world.
The managing director pointed out that through the budget estimates the organisation intends to consolidate the current concession programme, with a view to enhancing revenue generation at minimal cost, adding that the budget would ensure efficient resource allocation within the context of the contraction of credit and liquidity in the international financial markets as a fallout of the global economic meltdown.
Although details of the budget estimates were not made public, it was confirmed through a statement issued last weekend and signed by Isah Suwaid on behalf of the assistant general manager, corporate affairs, NPA that the managing director assured the law makers that the even though the N117billion estimated internally generated revenue was ambitious, it was practicable and achievable.
Shedding light on how he hopes to meet the N117Billion target, the managing director predicted that Nigerian importers are likely to take advantage of the effect of global economic meltdown on prices of goods in the international market.
“I will relate it to the issue of the economic meltdown and its effects Nigeria. Over the years we have seen constant growth in cargo volumes and ship traffic. The economic meltdown globally will result in cheaper goods internationally. As an import-dependent nation, that will create a lot of opportunities for our importers and traders and we feel that our importers would take the advantage created by lower prices of goods to import more into the country”, he explained.
He also expressed optimism that the current foreign exchange regime in the country shall favour the revenue generation of the Authority pointing out that as the agency earns most of its revenue in dollars and undertakes substantial part of its expenditure in Naira, adding that this is likely to get more money accruing to its revenue.