$350m CVFF: FG Reduces Primary Lending Banks To Five, Approve Disbursement
Fred Omotara, Lagos
President Muhammadu Buhari has approved the immediate disbursement of the $350m Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund (CVFF) with immediate effect. This is even as the numbers of Primary Lending Banks have been reduced to five from 11.
Disclosing this at the flag-off of the Batch B of the 3rd Nigerian Seafarers’ Development Programme (NSDP), named NSDP-3 (TERRA) in Lagos on Saturday, the Minister of Transportation, Mu’azu Jaji Sambo said the fund will be discharged to the deserving ship owners through five selected banks, Union Bank, Polaris, Zenith, UBA and Jaiz banks, once the fund is released.
According to the Minister of Transportation, “It is my belief that finally we are going to break the 17 years old jinx that has hindered the growth and expansion of our domestic fleet.
“When we begin to disburse this fund in the days to come to the beneficiaries deserving of it, we have made case that the fund belongs to the indigenous shipowners, and Mr. President has agreed with us and has granted approval to proceed to disburse this fund with immediate effect.
“We are going to be liaising with the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning as well as the Central Bank of Nigeria in order to give immediate effect to this approval.
“In addition, we are going to continue to allow this fund to go into the Treasury Single Account. However, when the money hits the threshold of $50 million, the Central Bank upon recommendation from NIMASA and Federal Ministry of Transportation, would give effect to the transfer to the lending institutions.
“And in this regard, five primary lending institutions have been approved by Mr President to give effect to the disbursement. This milestone development, together with today’s ceremony, go hand in hand because there is a nexus in seafaring and capacity building.”
Sambo further disclosed that Union Bank, Polaris, Zenith, UBA and Jaiz banks have been selected based on the guidelines for the disbursement as contained in the CVFF Act, and as approved by the National Assembly.
“Based on those guidelines, these banks were recommended to the President, who has approved, and the guidelines stipulate that the primary lending banks will provide 50 per cent of the fund, NIMASA 35 per cent, and applicants 15 per cent.
“The beneficiaries are those who contribute to the funds, applied and meet the requirements, including having the stipulated 15 per cent of the required funds.
“Mr. President approved the disbursement late Friday, and he would send a formal communication on Monday to the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) Director-General, Dr. Bashir Jamoh, for immediate action.
“My predecessor actually got approval from the President, but some administrative challenges the Ministry of Transportation faced with the Ministry of Finance were the constraints, and those gaps have been addressed,” the Minister of Transportation added.
Commending the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) for its efforts in human capital development of the maritime sector, Sambo said the collapse of the Nigerian National Shipping Line (NNSL) created a gap in the manpower development of the nation’s shipping industry, especially in the area of shipboard training and manning.
“The implementation of the coastal and inland shipping policy increased the demand for Nigerian seafarers which, as at that time, was in gross shortage.
“Therefore, the Federal Ministry of Transportation and NIMASA midwifed the NSDP in 2008 as a way to address these shortfalls, and as an intervention programme “designed to train Nigerian youths to become seafarers.
“The initiative targeted training globally competitive officers that will erase the unfortunate discrimination that exists between local and foreign trained officers in practice. However, efforts are ongoing in the area of upgrading local MTIs to enable them take up the NSDP trainings in the near future,” the Minister explained
On his part, the NIMASA DG, Dr. Bashir Jamoh said that the funds are in two folds – N16billion and $350 million, with the N16 billion being the addition to the $350m earlier announced by the former Transport Minister, Chibuike Amaechi. He assured that there would be timelines for the disbursement, down to the issuance of cheque to the beneficiaries