*As NIMASA names Vessel after Folarin.
By Frank Odinukaeze
After waiting for 20 years(2003-2023), for the seeming illusive Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund (CVFF) disbursement,some indigenous ship owners may not after all,benefit from the the fund ,it has been revealed.
Presenting a paper titled ,” Ensuring the Effective Disbursement of the Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund (CVFF)”, at a one day colloquium organised by Maritime Media,in honour of late sage,Otunba Kunle Folarin,at Rockview Hotel ,Apapa, Lagos , maritime Lawyer and Senior Advocate of Nigeria ( SAN),Jean Chiazor Anishere,revealed that not all indigenous shipping service providers trading on Nigeria’s Cabotage are eligible for the loan.
Anishere noted that the law which establishes the fund, also states recommendations for accessing it.
According to her,”To access the CVFF loan, such an applicant must have been paying the Cabotage dues of 2% surcharge, license and waiver fees. The company must also have contracts with international oil firms.
Also, the firm must have a positive cash flow and bankable feasibility reports which shall be verified by NIMASA and the PLIs, among others”
The erudite maritime Lawyer submitted that the CVFF can be beneficial to both shipowners and the domestic economy as a whole.
She noted that for shipowners, the CVFF provides access to financing that they may not otherwise be able to obtain, which can help them to acquire or build new vessels, expand their operations and create jobs
“For the domestic economy, the CVFF helps to support the growth of the domestic shipping industry, which can lead to increased trade and economic activities and can also help to reduce dependence on foreign shipping” she observed
Anishere however noted that the CVFF, can also have some limitations such as, overcapacity in the domestic shipping market, if not managed properly. It also could lead to lack of profitability in the industry, as it may lead to increase of the domestic fleet but not necessarily increase in the cargo.
Anishere enumerated some of the benefits of the CVFF,which include the development of Nigerian maritime industry:
“By providing financing to Nigerian citizens and companies to acquire vessels for use in the coastal trade, the CVFF helps to promote the development of a Nigerian-owned and operated maritime industry , encourages indigenous participation in the Nigerian maritime industry, by providing financial assistance to Nigerian citizens and companies; the program helps to create jobs in the maritime industry, particularly for Nigerian citizens who would otherwise be unable to afford to acquire a vessel for use in the coastal trade.Also, by promoting the use of vessels that meet the requirements of the Nigerian Cabotage Act, the CVFF helps to improve the safety and security of the Nigerian maritime industry.
Boosts economic growth and also promotes self-sufficiency. The CVFF is intended to being self-sustaining, with revenue generated from the coastal trade used to repay loans from the fund. This promotes self- sufficiency and reduces the burden on the government to provide funding for the maritime industry in the long run”
She noted however,that the CVFF has been inundated with
criticisms, mainly on the transparency and accessibility to the fund by the industry stakeholders.
She affirmed that the fund has faced some limitations and challenges which include, lack of transparency, inaccessibility of the fund,limited funds,
Bureaucratic process: The loan disbursement process and the requirements can be very bureaucratic, taking a long time to complete.Limited impact and lack of accountability of the use of the fund and current balance.
Her words,”It is worth noting that these challenges can be addressed with proper management, transparency and stakeholder engagement. A better defined and transparent loan disbursement process, and a system of accountability for the loan use and repayment, would go a long way in addressing some of these limitations”
She said in order to ensure a successful disbursement of the CVFF, NIMASA must develop a clear financing mechanism, encourage local participation, streamline the vessel acquisition process and build a sustainable local shipbuilding industry, monitor and evaluate the impact of the fund
“If the CVFF is properly disbursed to Nigerian whip owners, it will move the maritime industry and Nigeria forward. There should be a clear and positive indication to implement the policy, as we cannot keep the money forever in the banks; it has to serve the purpose it is meant to serve. The process for disbursement should be clear to stakeholders in the maritime industry; the Minister of Transportation, Alh. Muazu Sambo, should be commended on his recent acts towards ensuring speedy implementation of the disbursement of the CVFF whilst there is a need to collate modalities on how to disburse the fund from the various stakeholders, for further constant review, towards attaining a sustainable and effective CVFF implementation ” she said .
Anishere added however that ,”It is hoped that a successful disbursement of the CVFF, will open a new vista of shipping business and market opportunity for our local interest,” she submitted.
The high point of the event was the naming of a vessel recently purchased by the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) after the late maritime icon,Otunba Kunle Folarin.Dr.Jamoh while paying a tribute to the late sage ,revealed this,which was greeted with loud ovation by the participants.
In his reaction Dr. MkGeorge Onyung, President of Ship Owners Association of Nigeria, SOAN, noted that now is the most appropriate time to disburse the CVFF in other to,”Take back our industry from foreigners. If we have ships, no one will ask us to pay risk charges. Whatever disbursed will be used to buy good vessels to boost our local shipping.”
The medical doctor turned shipping magnate called for a date in a year to celebrate the late Otunba Kunle Folarin and asked NIMASA to make available copies of amended CVFF Act to the stakeholders.
Chief Isaac Jolapamo, President of Nigeria Shipping Association, NISA,while paying tribute to late Otunba Kunle Folarin ,described the late sage as an asset to not only the maritime Industry,but to the nation’s well.
On his part , Dr. Chris Asoluka, a maritime economist and an oil and gas technocrat, said there must strong political will to get the CVFF disbursed.He said without political will NIMASA will be going back and forward the National Assembly over the CVFF. According to him, the fund should be independent of government’s interference taking into account that the money is from private operators.
The colloquium, chaired by Captain Emmanuel Iheanacho, Chairman of Genesis Shipping and one-time federal minister of interior, was organised by Media Friends of Otunba Kunle Folarin.
While calling for a regular stakeholders’ meeting, Asoluka noted that the greatest limitation of the CVFF is the waiver clause,and wished the amendment of the CVFF currently before the Senate should be adequately addressed.
Other speakers include the president of the Nigerian Union of Journalists(NUJ),Mr Adeleye Ajayi ,who also called for annual lecture in honour of Otunba Kunle Folarin ,as a way of imortalising him, amongst others