President Muhammadu Buhari has approved the immediate disbursement of the N16 billion Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund (CVFF) to qualified Nigerians as part of the Federal Government’s commitment to growing the capacity of Nigerians to own vessels.
Mu’azu Jaji Sambo, the Minister of Transportation, told newsmen at the weekend that the Presidential approval received by the Ministry on Friday confirmed Union, Zenith, Polaris, UBA and Jaiz Banks as the appointed Primary Lending Institutions (PLIs) for the disbursement of the funds.
Bashir Jamoh, the director general of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) said the fund available for disbursement was slightly over ₦16 billion and $350 million.
“What we have collected so far is in two folds made up of Naira and Dollar components. So far, the funds available under the CVFF in naira component is about ₦16 billion while contributions in the Dollar component is about $350 million,” Jamoh said.
On his part, the Minister said the Ministry of Transportation has commenced liaison with the Minister of Finance and the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, for the implementation.
“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 the 17-year-old jinx that has hindered the expansion of the maritime industry. We made a case that the funds belong to the ship owners and Mr. President has asked us to proceed with immediate effect,” he explained.
Sambo said that CVFF will continue to go into the Treasury Single Account but whenever the money hits the threshold of $50 million, the CBN upon recommendation from the NIMASA and the Federal Ministry of Transportation would be expected to transfer the funds to the Primary Lending Institutions.
The CVFF was established alongside the Nigerian Coastal and Inland Shipping (Cabotage) Act of 2003, to empower indigenous ship owners to take control of the nation’s coastal and inland shipping business, otherwise known as the Cabotage trade.
Applicants of the fund are expected to make an equity contribution of 15 percent while NIMASA would make an equity contribution of 35 percent and 50 percent would be provided by the banks.