Maritime : NIMASA Expedite Action Over Planned Disbursement Of CVFF,To Proposed NISA Members.

 By Stephen Ubanna

When President muhammadu Buhari, commissioned the $1.5 billion, Lekki Deep Port, on Monday, January, 22, 2023, Industry stakeholders were optimistic that it will spur the Bashir Jamoh led Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency , NIMASA, To initiate the process for the disbursement of the over $350 million and N16 billion , that had accumulated into the Cabotage Finance Fund, CVFF, over the last 17 years to the indigenous ship-owners , under the aegis of Ngeria ship-owners Association, NISA.

True to their optimism, the Management of the Maritime Regulatory Agency, were said to have met with the Executive Management of the five primary lending banks: UBA, Zenith, Jaiz, Polaris and Union banks, selected to manage and disburse the Funds, to assist the proposed beneficiaries of the Funds to procure ocean going vessels to participate in the country’s coastal trade currently dominated by the foreign shipping Companies.

As a prelude for the disbursement of the multi-million, North American country of the United States, US, dollars and the multi-billion naira, Funds, Jamoh, the NIMASA, Director General, had said that the agency  will continue  ‘’ to ensure  effective communication  with the NISA,  CVFF Steering Committee.

 Note that the CVFF  is financed  through  a surcharge  of 2% of the contract  sum  performed  by any vessel  involved in the coastal trade  and  monies generated  from the Coastal  and Shpping Cabotate Act  of 2003, like tariffs, fines, and fees  for licenses , waivers  and other service charges that may be stipulated by the National Assembly from time to time. The Bill that was said to have been passed by the National Assembly that established the Coastal and Shipping Act, was   into Law, by former President Olusegun Obasanjo in 2003.

 The money realised from the Cabotage regime was said to have been warehoused in the Single Treasury Account, TSA, opened with the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, at the instance of the Federal government.

 Emegng at a recent closed door meeting with the Management of the five selected banks that would manage the disbursement of the CVFF,  Jamoh  had described it as a major ‘’step  towards  the implementation  of the disbursement of the fund as announced by Eng. Muazu, Jaji Sambo, the North central state of Taraba minister of Transportation in 2022.

An elated NIMASA , Chief Executive Officer, CEO, had said that their engagement  of the banks was ‘’to ensure  that the agency  and the PLIs,  are on the same page  to ensure that the mistakes of the past disbursement of the Ship Acquisition and Ship Building , Fund , SSBF, did not repeat itself again .

He would want the lesson from the past experience  to proof  useful  in the implementing  the disbursement of  the   current  Funds that will lead  to the developing of the nation’s shipping sector  and the Blue Economy, which is the in- thing the world-over now.

He noted that they  are  engaging  the banks  approved for the management  and disbursement  of the CVFF  because  they are the ones  who have ‘’the Professional know-how  in fund management  and dispensing’’ , stressing that this will go a long way in ‘’helping the agency  in the reduction of  risk  in order to avoid  the same risks of SASBF, where the beneficiaries had diverted the funds to other uses  instead of using it to procure ships, that could have increased the country’s tonnage.

Jamoh, DG , NIMASA, And Executive Management Of Banks Selected To Manage And Disburse The CVFF

Jamoh, who could not hide his feelings had said that   the banks are expected ‘’to come up with the interest rate, tenor, collateral’’  and other requirements  needed  for the Indigenous shipping Companies to access the Funds.

Giving that shipping is an International business may have informed why the NIMASA, CEO, had aid that ‘’the interest rate should be of international best practices because the Fund being disbursed was in dollar denominated’’ and not in the local currency.

He may have gladdened of the Industry stakeholders when he stated that the CVFF regime is  going to be  ‘’a win-win’’  situation   for all  involved   including the PLIs, urging the banks to look at the windows of opportunity  inherent in the industry   for the benefit  of all the parties involved in the deal.

The seriousness of NIMASA Management this time around towards the disbursement of the Multi-million dollar, and naira denominated, CVFF, and to ensure accountability may have encouraged the PLIs, to applaud the initiative. Officials of the Banks, were said ‘’to have pledged their support towards ensuring judicious use of the Funds by the  beneficiaries in order to ensure that accountability  are guaranteed’’.

Sirajo Salisu, the Managing Director of Jaiz bank, may have spoken the mind of his Counterparts from the other PLIs, when he assured of prompt action towards disbursing the CVFF. Appealing to the interested Indigenous ship owners to be ready to access the Funds by abiding to the provisions of the Cabotage and Shipping Act of 2003, he disclosed that the banks would not compromise on that.

The Jaiz bank helmsman was said to have made it clear to those cares to listen, that they will ‘’try their best to partner with the proposed beneficiaries of the Funds. He would want the proposed beneficiaries of the CVFF, not see it as a grant but meant for a purpose to procure ocean –going vessels to participate in the county’s coastal trade which must be achieved

 Mudassir Amray, Managing Director, Unio bank, Mrs. Emem Usoro, Executive Director, UBA, North, and Temi  Ariboloye Change, Risk Officer, Polaris who were said to have also spoken at the all-important meeting between   NIMASA and the PLIs, to prepare the ground for the disbursement of the CVFF, to the proposed beneficiaries, stressing their readiness for the disbursement of the Funds with proper supervision.

Osagie Edward, an Assistant Director and the agency , spokesperson, had given an insight to the Cabotage and Shipping Act of 003, which states that making the Funds available for the proposed Indigenous shipping Companies,  NIMASA, would make available 50%  of the Funds,  while the PLIs  are expected the project  with 35% and the proposed beneficiaries and the remaining  15 %  funds  needed to  make up for the acquisition  of a vessel are to be contributed by the beneficiaries.       

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