The Minister of Transportation, Mr Rotimi Amaechi, on Thursday, named the Director-General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Dr Dakuku Peterside as the chairman of the committee to develop guidelines for the disbursement of the $200 million Cabotage Vessel Financing Funds (CVFF).
Amaechi told a meeting of relevant cabotage stakeholders on CVFF, in Lagos, that the fund which was initially applied to building a university, building faculty of maritime in different universities, is now to be applied to ship owners directly.
He said: “What we have agreed today is to set up a committee that will come forward with the proposed guideline which will be presented to the National Assembly.
“It is the committee that will determine if it will be a single digit or not”.
According to him, as part of efforts to mitigate the risks involved in the disbursement, financial institutions would be involved and the fiscal risk borne by them.
“The banks will be involved in developing the criteria for the disbursement of the fund, so the risk will be borne by the institutions”.
The minister also said that the committee would determine the percentage interest to be inserted in the procurement of CVFF.
On his part, Peterside said that the meeting was to discuss the CVFF disbursement which the minister had got approval for.
He said that after extensive discussions by stakeholders, it was decided that the committee should come up with a draft guideline.
“The minister will study this draft and pass on to the National Assembly for approval in line with the Cabotage Act.
“Thereafter, we will move to the next phase of actual disbursement, using the banks as a platform,” he said.
On the timeframe for actual disbursement, Peterside said that two factors would determine how soon.
“One factor will be how soon the National Assembly approves the draft guideline, and the other factor will be that the provisions of the guidelines will have to be followed religiously by the participating banks.
“Stakeholders have to meet these requirements before the disbursement of CVFF,” he said.
The Chairperson, Ship-owners Forum, Mrs Margaret Orakwusi, said that she was looking forward to the disbursement of the fund and a better shipping industry where the fund would be utilised judiciously.
She canvassed for a long spread of the interest rate on CVFF, noting that ships lasted for 30 years and more.
“It should be a single-digit interest and a low figure”, she added.
Other members of the committee include a former Director-General of NIMASA, Mr Temisan Omatseye; Chairperson, Nigerian Ship-owners Forum, Mrs Margaret Orakwusi, and the Managing Director, Sea Transport, Mr Aminu Umar.