Shipowners express worries over FG’s delay in ship funding
Nigerian shipowners have continued to express their disappointment over the Federal Government’s delay in the disbursement of the Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund (CVFF) to potential beneficiaries many years after the lifeline was made ready.
The shipowners, acting under the aegis of the Nigerian Shipowners Association (NISA) has therefore come heavily on the Federal Government for failing to live up to expectations.
President of the group, Captain Dada Niyi Labinjo, who spoke to SHIPPING DAY recently said it was surprising that no indigenous shipping company had benefitted from the fund 12 years after it was established.
Labinjo said that the CVFF ought to have been reviewed two times since it was set up, explaining that the law provided that it was reviewed every five years regretting that 12 years had gone with nobody benefitting from it.
This development, he said, had not helped the local shipping operators, adding that what government ought to have done in order to ensure that the fund did not fail should have been to set up a committee headed by a Minister of Transport for its disbursement.
Labinjo pointed out that the other alternative would have been to set up a Maritime Bank to handle such Fund, like the Agric Bank and Bank of Industry.
Expressing dismay that NIMASA was now seen as a revenue generating agency, he said, “NIMASA is not a revenue agency. It is a development agency. Its specific purpose is to develop maritime. If it succeeds to the extent that Nigerian companies develop commercial shipping, it will lead to employment creation and more revenue boom for the Federal Inland Revenue and indeed the national economy”.
CVFF replaced the Ship Acquisition and Ship Building Fund (SASBF) which was operated by the defunct National Maritime Authority (NMA) was suspended when its beneficiaries failed to repay loans given to them over 20 years ago.
The law provides that NIMASA sets aside two per cent of its three per cent levy on shipments for indigenous shipping development.
About four companies were selected by the NIMASA about two years ago to benefit from the Fund but to no avail.
Many have interpreted the non-release of the fund as a clear indication that it may have been diverted to other projects by the government, although this has been denied by the NIMASA management.