Indigenous ship operators hail FG over plan to disburse CVFF

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Indigenous shipowners have commended the Federal Government on its plan and pronouncements to disburse the Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund (CVFF) to enable them acquire vessels and expand their fleets.

Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaeachi, had during the 2019 Stakeholders’ Appreciation Night organized by the Nigerian Shippers Council (NSC), said the Federal Government has approved the disbursement of the fund put at $200million from January 2020.

Speaking with SHIPS & PORTS, shipping mogul and immediate past President, Shipowners Association of Nigeria (SOAN), Engr. Greg Ogbeifun, said with the approval coming from the President, he is optimistic that the fund would be disbursed.

Ogbeifun expressed delight with the Minister’s pronouncement to meet with relevant stakeholders and shipowners to work out modalities and the process of disbursement. This, he said, would help ensure accountability that only genuine shipowners benefit from the fund.

He, however, called for a forensic audit of the CVFF in order to establish how much money has accrued into the fund before disbursement.

He said, “This is the first time the Minister is categorically announcing that the President has now given him the nod to disburse the fund. Before now, there has been vague statement that they would disburse when we know they are not the ones stopping the disbursement. Now the approval has come from the highest level of government, I think we should give them a benefit of doubt.

“What gladdens my heart was the Minister’s statement that he would meet with relevant stakeholders and shipowners to work out the modalities. That is key to ensure that it is the people that really have project that will access the fund. That will be accountability for anybody that accesses that fund, so that people who don’t need it don’t go away with it and give us a bad name. Those of us who are developing maritime infrastructure to build ships should be able to access the fund.

“It is a good development for the minister to announce it publicly, which means that there is hope. But the starting point is to know the exact amount in that account. There should be a forensic audit of all the funds that have gone into that account and what actually is left there before they will know what they can disburse. It is only then the Minister will know how much money to give out. If we don’t do that, there will be no transparency in the process.”

On his part, former President of Nigerian Shipowners Association (NISA), Aminu Umar, who described the Federal Government’s approval as good news for ship owners, said the fund will enable them acquire more ships.

He said, “It is good news for shipowners and prospective shipowners too. This is the first time we are hearing this since the coming of this government. We hope and pray that by January, it will come to pass. This is the first time the minister has secured the approval of the President to release the fund. It is a good development. If there is disbursement of CVFF, it means more Nigerians will own vessels.”

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