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FG orders official forex rate for shipowners

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By Usman Oladimeji

Import duty is exempted for local shipowners on brand-new vessels.

The Nigerian government has issued a directive to the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to provide forex for shipowners at an official rate for ship acquisition, preferably than the excessive black market rate. Also, local shipowners have been exempted from paying import duty on brand-new vessels. Dr. Bashir Jamoh, Director General of Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), revealed this in his statement at the Shipowners’ Association of Nigeria (SOAN) end-of-year dinner and gala night held in Lagos.

Thus, Jamoh encourages indigenous shipowners to take advantage of the incentives and the recent approval for the disbursement of the Cabotage Vessels Finance Fund (CVFF) to increase their fleet count and end the foreign dominance over the nation’s coastal trade. He stated that the incentives provided for indigenous shipowners have yet to lead to the acquisition of vessels into the country. He further explained that the benefits induced by the tremendous investment in the Lekki Deep Seaport would go to waste if indigenous stakeholders failed to leverage the Federal Government’s incentives to acquire vessels.

Director general pledges merit and transparency on CVFF disbursement.

Moreover, Jamoh assured shipowners that under his directive, the agency put in all effort to ensure a conducive and enabling operating environment for the Nigerian shipowners. He noted that the country’s coastal trade would not thrive without government support. While speaking on the CVFF incentive, Jamoh asked interested stakeholders to relate with Mr. Aminu Umar of the Nigerian Shippers Association (NISA) and help build fleets for the nation instead of creating misunderstanding over the actual amount in the fund.

Director general, of Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), emphasized that foreigners have been taking advantage of the country’s coastal trade with their ships. he added that it is high time to harness the provided incentives and take charge of what has been bestowed on the country. He pledges merit and transparency in the disbursement of CVFF, adding that neither NIMASA nor the ministry would bear any liability in the whole arrangement. Anyone selected for the fund will be based on merit, mutual understanding, and the initial agreement with the bank and NIMASA.

Investments at Lekki deep seaport with be useless without any ships.

Jamoh annuls assertions and rumors on the CVFF being diverted to other ends or not being fully declared, stating that in terms of the amount, the CVFF, just like other public funds, are statutorily subjected to audit every year. He said it is subject to the auditor general’s, FMoT, and external auditors’ audits, rendering it an open case. Rather than quarrelling on balance, he urges for a concerted effort on how to disburse the funds while focusing on increasing fleets to enhance the country’s beneficial gain on the trade.

While reiterating the significant importance of coming together, Jamoh argues that without any ship patronizing the port, all the investments at Lekki deep seaport will be useless. Earlier in his welcome address, SOAN President Dr. McGeorge Onyung commended the efforts of the NIMASA and Navy. He stressed that without peace, safety, and security in place, nothing could work. Onyung expressed gratitude to NIMASA for getting the NNPC to allow indigenous vessels to work in the industry, thereby changing the narrative of past decades when only foreign companies were working for Nigeria.

Onyung called on members to cooperate and draw down the CVFF.

The Shipowners’ Association of Nigeria president said the country will be able to take advantage of the ocean now that members of the association are into the contract despite the issues encountered. Onyung called on members to cooperate and draw down the CVFF to enhance the nation’s economic prosperity through non-oil export. He explained that while NNPC produces crude oil for export, shipping produces non-oil export through freight because when crude oil is exported, the shipping aspect is non-oil export.

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