By DAPO OLAWUNI
The Director General of Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) Dr Bashir Jamoh has said that the $353m and N16 billion components of the Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund (CVFF) can conveniently aquire thirty vessels for Nigerian shipowners.
Dr Jamoh also hinted that the government would be sourcing for additional foreign exchange in trying to convert the N16 billion Naira component into Dollars.
“We have both naira and dollar accounts. The dollar account has a balance of about $353m. As regards the naira account, we intend to implement a single digit, and adopt international best practices by disbursing it in dollars. However, the interest rate must be commensurable with what obtains at the international market.
“The implication is that we would have to source for additional foreign exchange to convert the naira into dollars. But, this depends on what the minister asks us to do.
“The dollars is only 50 per cent of CVFF, while another 35 per cent must be provided by the primary lending institutes; and they all agreed to it. With that amount, nothing less than 30 new vessels can be bought. Each of those vessels would provide direct and indirect employment for a large number of people” he said
Dr Jamoh stated that NIMASA has held series of stakeholders engagement meetings with the PLI’s, the beneficiaries and other stakeholders.
“We are in the process of harmonising the three sides— NIMASA, beneficiaries and PLIs.
“In accordance with the law, we would then write our recommendations and send them to the Minister of Transportation. I have already briefed him on the progress we had made and he was pleased. He (minister) would also look at everything submitted to him, and where there are gray areas, we would sit down together and make adjustments. We hope that before the end of February, we can commence the first phase of disbursement.
“I am praying to God to enable me achieve that target. We would develop an action plan of the deliverables, timeline and key performance indicators, and release it as soon as we get the clearance of the minister.
“Once that is done, we would inform the stakeholders on when the disbursements would commence. This is going to be a game changer in the maritime industry. The operators, beneficiaries and other stakeholders have suffered enough.
“Since the administration of President Olusegun Obansanjo, I don’t think any sector has had as many setbacks as the maritime industry. Meanwhile, it had huge potential but we were unable to harness that potential. By the time we finish this process, it will be a game changer for the maritime industry” he said
(Culled from PUNCH newspaper)