The Honourable Minister Of Transportation, Engr Mu’azu Jaji Sambo had said that the Carbotage Vessel Financing Fund (CVFF) would transform the shipping community in Nigeria.
Sambo made the disclosure on Saturday at the flag off ceremony of the third phase of the Nigerian Seafarers Development Program (NSDP) held at the Naval dockyard in Lagos.
The Minister who revealed that President Muhammadu Buhari has just approved the funds said it would be disbursed by five selected banks.
“I have just been informed that the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, President Muhammadu Buhari has approved my request for the disbursement of the Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund.
“it is my belief that finally we are going to break a 70 year old jinx that has hindered the growth and expansion of our domestic fleet when we begin to disperse this fund in the days to come to beneficiaries deserving of it.
“We have made the case that this funds belongs to you, ship owners and the president who is a man of law, who respects the law has agreed with us and he is on the same page with us and has granted approval that we proceed to disperse these funds with immediate effect.
“We are going to be liaison with the Honorable Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning as well as the Governor of the Central Bank in order to give immediate effect to this approval,” he said.
Sambo added that the funds would go into the treasury single account and that whenever the fund hits the threshold of N50 million, the Central Bank of Nigeria upon recommendation from NIMASA and the Federal Minister of Transportation would give effect to the transfer of such funds to the primary lending institutions.
“In this regard, five primary lending institutions have been approved by Mr President to give effect to the disbursement, he said.
The Minister added that the milestone development together with the flag off ceremony of the Nigerian Seafarers’ Development Programme (NSDP) go hand in hand because there is a nexus between seafaring ship capacity building.
“Seafarers will only be employed when ships are available and with this approval, i am’ sure our indigenous capacity can only grow higher and not even the sky will be the limit.
Giving assurance on the disbursement of the funds, the Minister of Transportation said “hold me responsible if we are not going to disburse this fund. I am taking my integrity on the signature of the President.
“That is all I can say. Now, to give you a little enlightenment about what happened even under my immediate predecessor who actually had gotten an approval from Mr. President that could not be implemented was because of some administrative challenges the Ministry of Transportation had with the Federal Ministry of Finance.
“You may recall that the CVFF is a statutory Fund created by the National Assembly under Section 42 to Nigerian operators in the domestic coastal shipping.
“We identified those gaps and we make sure that in our prayers for the President, we addressed those gaps. The first banks that have been approved by the President to disburse the CVFF are Union Bank, Polaris, Zenith, UBA and Jaiz bank,” he said.
He noted that the choice of the banks were based on set out guidelines and that there are criteria surrounding the choice of the banks which were recommended to the President before they were approved.
“The fund has both Naira and dollar components. I think now we have nothing less than 16 billion Naira in terms of the Naira component and we have the dollar component of about 350 million dollars,” Sambo added.
He also announced that NIMASA is set to disburse the Cabotage Vessel Finance Fund, CVVF with immediate effect adding that the agency will also ensure indigenous operators compete favourably with their foreign counterparts for business.