By DAPO OLAWUNI
The Shipowners Association of Nigeria (SOAN) has raised an alarm of $100Million in capital flight and losses to the country, as the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) recently contracted coastal and bunkering vessels services to a foreign shipping company, Messrs UNIBROS.
In a petition to the National Assembly, as well as to the Group Managing Director of NNPC, Mr Mele Kyari, signed by President of SOAN, Dr Mkgeorge Onyung, a copy of which he made available to DAILY TREND NEWS, the beneficiary company, UNIBROS, operates under guise of various foreign shell companies with eleven foreign flagged coastal tanker vessels.
The shipowners urged the lawmakers to carryout a thorough investigation into the action of the NNPC which according to them is in total breach and impetuous disregard for Nigerian Content laws, the Coastal and Inland Shipping Act (Cabotage Act) and The Presidential Executive Order No.5, to the exclusion of Nigerian Shipowners and operators and to the detriment of the Nigerian economy.
According to the petition “The Ship Owners Association of Nigeria (SOAN) hereby register our protest in this show of bad faith and unpatriotic attitude displayed by NNPC, despite the fact that Nigerian Shipowner‘s and operators have demonstrated capacity to operate this contract exclusively, and have expressed willingness to accept freight payments in Naira whereas NNPC is presently paying UNIBROS in US Dollars, further‘ draining our extremely scarce foreign exchange resources”
“Take note that this contract award will result in amplification of capital flight, valued in excess of $100M annually to the detriment of our economy in addition to the fact that no Customs import duty has been paid for any of the 11 vessels in question, again in breach of our Nation’s fiscal and monetary policies”
“Nigerian owned and flagged vesseis are made To pay full customs duty and appropriate taxes on earnings which foreign shipping companies have continually evaded illegally. UNIBROS and/or any other foreign shell company does not pay any Tax To FIRS”
“In the area of capacity building, no seafarer training or local content strategic plan is in place in line with the NOGCID laws.
Neither UNIBROS nor any foreign shipowner or shipping company is made to comply with one of The major prequalification requirement for consideration in the CoastaI and Bunkering Vessels Service Tender process, being the submission and approval by NCDMB”
“We therefore implore you To use your good office to reverse and cancel this contract which was not subject to public tender in line with our public procurement procedures” SOAN stated
The association equally assured that its members are standing by with Medlum Range (MR), Long Range (LR), and Handy-size Tanker Vessels to meet NNPC’s coastal and import shipping requirements within short notice, subject to bankable contract terms and conditions.