Why CVFF is not ready for disbursement, by Jamoh

The Director-General of Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA, Dr. Bashir Jamoh says the ongoing amendment of the Cabotage Vessel Finance Fund at the National Assembly is the reason why the fund has not been disbursed.

Bashir Jamoh stated that the CVFF amendment had been passed by the House of Representatives but remains the Senate, saying the amendment is necessary to avoid the mistakes that led to the collapse of CVFF’s predecessor, Ship Acquisition and Ship Building Fund, SASBF. He however urged stakeholders to make inputs before its passage by the Senate.

The NIMASA boss stated that it baffles him hearing stakeholders listing challenges that may mar the disbursement of the fund when in actual fact it is yet to be disbursed.

Jamoh made this known as one of the panelists at a colloquium on Thursday, January 19, 2023 in Lagos to celebrate the passion of the late Otunba Kunle Folarin for the development of the nation’s shipping industry.

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.

The late Otunba Kunle was the Chairman of Nigerian Ports Consultative Council, NPCC. Folarin, who was described as a Nigeria’s maritime encyclopedia, died in November 8, 2022. While alive, he was passionate about the growth of the nation’s local shipping industry. Folarin had worked with Alraine Shipping and served in many strategic maritime committees for the growth of the industry.

Jamoh said “CVFF is like a marriage that is yet to be consummated but people have inferred a lot of challenges which may not let the marriage work. Why are the insinuations? We have never started the CVFF policy. We can’t start the disbursement without engagement with stakeholders. We are taking out time to avoid the challenges that crippled the CVFF’s predecessor, Ship Acquisition and Ship Building Fund, SASBF.”

The NIMASA boss informed that there are eight companies who obtained SASBF loans but never paid back, saying that the CVFF Act had been amended by the House of Representatives but awaits the nod of the Senate. He said that there is a chance for stakeholders to make inputs before the Senate passes it.

Jamoh who paid a tribute to Folarin notified the participants that one of the vessels just acquired by NIMASA has been named after the deceased.

Among the challenges listed by Jean Chiazor-Anishere, who said Otunba Folarin would have loved to see the CVFF disbursed, are lack of transparency on how much in the CVFF Account, bureaucratic process of disbursement by lending banks, lack of significant development of national fleet, and non-acountability (NIMASA to give account to the public).

To ensure a successful disbursement of the CVFF, Anishere recommended that NIMASA must develop a clear financing mechanism, encourage local participation, streamline the vessel acquisition process which may import procedures and time and costs, 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.

“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,” Anishere submitted.

Also reacting to Anishere’e paper, Dr. MkGeorge Onyung, President of Ship Owners Association of Nigeria, SOAN, said “time is now to disburse the CVFF, 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.”

Onyung however 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.

To Chief Isaac Jolapamo, President of Nigeria Shipping Association, NISA, it is important for stakeholders to join forces to chart a course for the growth of the industry. He noted that the national fleet is possible once the federal government is ready to display the political will for the timely disbursement of the fund.

If there is no political will, Dr. Chris Asoluka, a maritime economist and an oil and gas technocrat, said 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.

Calling for a regular stakeholders’ meeting, Asoluka said the greatest limitation of the CVFF is the waiver clause.

Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund (CVFF) is a fund established by the Nigerian government to support the development of the Nigerian maritime industry, specifically by financing the acquisition and operation of vessels under the Nigerian Cabotage policy. The Cabotage policy aims at promoting the development of a national shipping industry and reducing dependence on foreign-flagged vessels for coastal trade.

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