The Director-General, Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Dr. Dakuku Peterside has assured that the agency will continue to engage the Federal Government on the need to create incentives for indigenous ship owners to enable them compete favourably against their foreign counterparts.
Some of the incentives NIMASA is seeking, according to Peterside, include a downward review of customs duty on vessel importation and change of Nigeria’s crude oil trade term from Free on Board (FOB) to Cost Insurance Freight (CIF) amongst others.
Speaking while fielding questions from journalists in Benin, the Edo State capital last weekend, Peterside said NIMASA is still engaging the Office of the Vice President to see the need for ship owners to have a special tariff regime.
He said, “I am sure you are aware that NIMASA is pursuing a set of incentives for ship owners in the country. Tariff is just one of the many things we are pursuing in the basket of incentives. We have opened engagement with the Federal Ministry of Finance and Nigeria Customs and their position is that the decision on that is to be made by the highest level of government and so we have commenced engagement with the Office of the Vice President.
“We try to explain to them that if the Nigerian ship owners are going to compete with their peers and the rest of the world within the cabotage regime and the industry, then they must have a special tariff regime. Those who bring in vessels to work for short term must have a different tariff regime from those who are bringing vessels to the country. So it is not going to be competitive for the Nigerian ship owner and I think that it is receiving attention and they now appreciate the point. We are making progress and very soon there will be some good news for all of us.
“We are also pushing for the change of trade terms and we have addressed the issue to the point that a technical committee has been set up by NIMASA and when the committee has submitted its report, we will advance to engaging the presidency and I know they will support the change of trade terms.”
The NIMASA DG also raised the hopes of ship owners on the disbursement of the Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund (CVFF), saying that the fund will be released in 2019.
When asked why the fund was not disbursed in 2018 as promised, he said, “We engaged the President concerning CVFF and he raised a number of issues and we have responded to it and I believe that once the President reads the response we have made to the issues he raised, there will be favourable disposition to the disbursement of the CVFF.
“It will be disbursed this year and the ship owners will benefit from reviewed interest rate in terms of facility to acquire assets in the country.”
On NIMASA’s preparation towards the forthcoming International Maritime Organization (IMO) council election, he said, “It is a country level obligation; NIMASA is only the lead under the Federal Ministry of Transportation. Everybody is involved including the Nigerian Port Authority, National Inland Waterways Authority, Nigerian Shippers’ Council and MAN Oron all have a role to play to get Nigeria elected into the council.
“It has been long we have been out of the council but we are tackling the challenges they have always pointed to us. They are beginning to show more understanding of our peculiar situation and if we do the things we are set out to do we will be re-elected into the council,” he said.