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Reps halt $700m cabotage fund disbursement, summons NIMASA DG

The House of Representatives has directed the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) to stop the planned disbursement of the $700 million Cabotage Vessels…

The House of Representatives has directed the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) to stop the planned disbursement of the $700 million Cabotage Vessels Financing Fund (CVFF).

The lawmakers adopted a motion on matters of urgent public importance sponsored and moved by Henry Nwauba at the plenary on Tuesday.

He said NIMASA must present an audited statement of account showing all monies that have accrued to the fund within seven days.

The House also invited the Minister of Transport, Mu’azu Jaji Sambo and the Director General of NIMASA, Dr Bashir Jamoh, to report to the House Committee on Local Content on the fund application in the past 20 years.

The House also directed its local content committee to investigate the fund, engage an external auditor to audit all the contracts and report to the House within 14 days.

Meanwhile, the DG of NIMASA Jamoh, on Tuesday said the agency was yet to disburse the fund due to high-interest rate by the handling banks.

Speaking yesterday at the headquarters of NIMASA in Lagos after addressing officials of the Ghana Maritime Administration, Jamoh said the high rate being offered by the five banks could become a burden on the stakeholders, insisting that NIMASA wants a single-digit interest rate.

The federal government in March 2023, urged the five banks it appointed to fast-track the process of giving the fund to qualified Nigerian shipowners to buy ships. They are Polaris Bank, UBA, Union Bank, Zenith Bank and Jaiz Bank.

The Coastal and Inland Shipping (Cabotage) Act 2003 created the fund for indigenous ships to build capacity and to provide financing for indigenous shipping operations.

Speaking on the high-interest rate, Jamoh said: “15 per cent of the fund will be coming from the stakeholders, 50% will be coming from the agency, which is the government; this makes it 65%. They (banks) can’t provide 35% and impose a high interest rate on the stakeholders,” he noted.

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