Barring any last minute change of mind, the Federal Government is set to commence the disbursement of the $250 million (N40bn) Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund (CVFF) among a total of six indigenous shipping firms as part of efforts to boost indigenous tonnage.
The fund created under the Coastal and Inland Shipping (Cabotage) Act, 2003, which is derived from two percent deduction from every contract sum under the policy, was designed to enable indigenous shipping companies to acquire vessels in order to participate in coastal and inland trade, which had been dominated by foreign interests, who also hold sway in deep sea shipping activities.
Minister of Transport, Mallam Idris Suleiman, who gave the hint at the World Maritime Day celebration held in Calabar, the Cross River State Capital Monday, disclosed that only six indigenous firms out of a total of 92 initially shortlisted would receive the funds.
The minister, who described the fund as a lifeline by the government, noted that it was aimed at assisting indigenous shipping firms, whose applications scaled through the stringent selection processes.
“Realising the importance of the participation of the indigenous operators in the achievement of sustainable development and enhancement of indigenous capacity, the Cabotage Act was enacted and provides for the establishment of the Fund. This was intended to assist indigenous operators to acquire vessels”, the minister said.
The Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMSA, custodian of the fund had for purposes of disbursements about three years ago, selected four Primary Lending Institutions comprising of Diamond Bank, Fidelity Bank, Skye Bank and Sterling Bank, all of which received a total of 92 applications have been appointed.
According to the minister, out of the several applications received for the CVFF facility, six applications have been processed and endorsed by these PLIs and accordingly recommended by the management of NIMASA to the ministry and are now being evaluated for approval.
Director General of NIMASA, Mr. Patrick Akpobolokemi, had during the visit of the Senate Committee on Marine Transport, disclosed that the value of the fund as at the end of September, 2012 stood at $169 million (N27.1bn), which has since increased to over $250 million.
The selection of these six lucky indigenous firms puts paid to speculation that some politicians have been jostling to access the funds for purposes other than that for which it was set
The minister, who was represented at the event by the Permanent Secretary, Mr. Nebolisa Emordi, had also announced that the Kirikiri Terminal 1 in Lagos has been designated a Fishing Terminal in order to enhance economic activities and promote the health and well being of Nigerians.
“As a measure of ensuring protection of Marine Biodiversity, plans have reached at advanced stage to concession the Kirikiri Terminal 1 as a dedicated Fishing Terminal to enhance economic activities and promote the health and well being of the citizens of this country”, he stated.
Information from National Mirror was used in this report.