…As Jamoh Pleads With Beneficiaries To Be Patient
By Ambrose Obioma Okehi
The Federal Government has gotten to the final arrangement for the disbursement of much-talked-about Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund (CVFF) at last as the government agency supervising the fund (the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency) NIMASA is making the last minutes arrangement to ensure that the fund gets to the expected Beneficiaries within few months from now.
However, the agency has pleaded with the maritime stakeholders particularly the beneficiaries to exercise patience as they had equally waited for it’s implementation for the past 17 years.
Speaking at the a special parly with maritime journalists on Thursday, the Director General of NIMASA, Dr. Bashir Jamoh emphatically told the Newsmen that the fund would be disbursed any moment from now after the last moment.
“Let’s wait for at least two months. If we can wait for a whole 17 years why can’t we wait for just two months?”, Jamoh queried.
The agency noted that the accuring amount in the CVFF account is N32 billion naira in Nigerian currency and $209 million in foreign currency.
Talking about the wasted years in disbursing the fund, the DG sais:
“We have a law, but for 17 years we didn’t implement it, we didn’t see the strength of the law or it’s weakness. In 2019, the Minister of Transportation, Rt. Hon. Rotimi Amaechi set up a committee to review the guidelines, maybe we would have to review the Act.
“There are lots of things in that law that might stand as a hindrance or bottleneck in terms of implementing the CVFF disbursement Whatever it is we must go back to the National Assembly for the review of the Act”, the DG said.
On the lending institutions, the agency said it has advertised for banks that have interest to be part of the disbursement of the CVFF fund, and that four primary lending institutions as well as eleven benefiting companies have been shortlisted”.
NIMASA further gave more details on the arrangement.
“We have so far shortlisted eleven benefiting companies. We have made our presentation to the honourable minister for them to oversee that the four primary lending institutions as required by law comes up with guidelines so that we can disburse”.
The NIMASA boss noted that after that stage the maritime stakeholders would be asked to come up with the specifications of vessels they want to purchase.
Giving more clearance over the question of who owes the fund Federal Government or ship owners, the Executive Director Maritime Labour and Cabotage, Engr. Victor Ochei, who was with the DG at the media parley, added that:
“CVFF is the 2% surcharge from contract. You cannot sir harge yourself. It is the 2% surcharge dedicated to financing coastal vessel. It does not belong to the ship owners and it is not paid into their account, it is paid into the Federal Government’s account. The FG enacted the law in order to surcharge every contract on coastal trade by 2%”, ED Maritime Labour and Cabotage said.
It was equally stated at the gathering that though the money is not individual indegenous ship owner’s money but Federal Government’s money but managed and supervised by NIMASA
“THE CVFF account is under NIMASA’s control. But we cannot spend the money. There is a process to it’s disbursement. So far with the way Cabotage Act 2003 is, disbursement of the fund cannot happen now because the realities of operating from Treasury Single Account (TSA). All Government agencies pay into TSA, so, we have to follow this process”, the agency noted.Dr. Jamoh whose administraton has done a lot to ensure that this find is quickly disbursed to the rightful benefiting companies and has achieved a lot within just one year as a core industry professional, noted that the fast-tracking approach or arrangement in disbursing the fund was the genuine concern of his management team. And the ED in charge of Cabotage supported Jamoh by saying that he requested to know the amount in the account at the beginning of their tenure.
“As at the time we came into office which is over a year ago, I called for the fund, and as at then, we had 32 billion naira in Nigerian currency and $209 million in foreign currency”.