Globally, nations ensure solid foreign reserves as a measure for assurance of their economic growth and stability. And this is achieved through increased export trade and articulation of the local content act to enable indigenous companies handle a good percentage of service provision, to avoid capital flight.
Practically, it is not enough to note the indices of economic growth and sustainability through proper handling of trade matters on paper only, it must be allowed to work as provided for by any act of the law backing them.
In the Nigerian situation, especially on the frontiers of trade and activation of laws protecting the economy against capital flight, not much has been achieved in terms of guiding against capital flight.
This is particularly worrisome, knowing well that different sectors of the economy, like the maritime, have capacities for providing jobs for the teeming unemployed population.
While a government agency such as the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) can be said to have helped fast-track capacity building through its National Seafarers Development Programme, which has since trained seafarers in various needs areas of the maritime sector, there is still need to fine-tune the track to completion. This is so because, a trained seafarer can only contribute to the growth of the economy when he puts his skill to work and get paid for the service rendered.
In clear terms, the idea is that for as many seafarers that have been trained, they should be engaged on ships that are trading within and out of Nigeria, rather than still having a large percentage of foreigners on-board these ships, who send home these huge amounts of money to the disadvantage of our own economy.
It would have been thought that the Local Content Act would have solved such challenge as a matter of policy implementation with vigilant seriousness to ensure that it works in favour of the nation’s economy.
Similar concern was raised at an industry conference recently, when stakeholders bemoaned the non-implementation of the agreement to engage indigenous ship chandlers in provision of services and supplies in the sub-sector.
Not minding the fact that the ship chandling business was put in place in as early as 1958 by an act of parliament, foreign operators and some local ones alike have refused to engage their services. This simply translates into avoidable capital flight. And as disclosed by a key stakeholder at the conference, Nigeria loses about N80 billion annually.
Since the business is regulated by the International Ship Suppliers Association (ISSA) an international body which was formed in 1955, it becomes baseless for excuses of standards because all operators; indigenous or foreign, must work according to the regulatory set standards.
Notably, sub-sectors in the industry have had to be engaging in training programmes of international standards and operators have also continued to learn new dynamics as required to improve on their operations.
As discussed during the conference, the sidelining of indigenous companies from providing chandling services has denied a lot of Nigerians jobs in the maritime sub-sector, even when it is provided for that they are entitled to 95 per cent handling of such services.
The question therefore is, why have regulatory authorities concerned not taken meaningful steps to addressing the matter? If it is known that indecision does not play a chance on policy matters, especially one that deals with protection of home trade, then the sector should be allowed to survive locally and to also save the huge amount of money leaving the nation’s economy.
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