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Economy: I’m committed to change agenda despite recession — Buhari

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  •  As MAN, LCCI, Rewane, others ask CBN to cut interest rate

As economic hardship in Nigeria bites harder, President Muhammadu Buhari, yesterday, reminded Nigerians that he was committed to his change agenda, but that such economic change cannot be achieved on a bed of roses.

The President, who spoke in Osogbo, the Osun State capital, added that through patience and perseverance, the challenges the country was facing would become a thing of the past. He reiterated his administration’s determination to implement the change agenda through the fight against corruption.

“We are determined to implement our change agenda by curbing excessive waste in government. We shall restore integrity to governance through the fight against corruption. We are determined to deliver and rescue the country from bad governance,” he said.

This came as an avalanche of reactions trailed the National Bureau of Statistics’ report which showed a negative economic growth in the first two quarters of the year, with the opposition Peoples Democratic Party Party, PDP, asking Buhari to resign over the economic misfortune.

In the meantime, The Manufacturers Association of Nigeria, the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the Abuja Chamber of Commerce and Industry and other organised private sectors on Thursday called on the Federal Government to drastically slash interest rate in order to stimulate economic recovery.

Professional bodies such as the Chartered Institute of Finance and Control and the Institute of Fiscal Studies of Nigeria and renowned economists including the Chief Executive Officer, Financial Derivatives Limited, Mr. Bismarck Rewane, advised the government to urgently review its policies and spend more to atttract both local and foreign investors to invest in the economy.

The National Bureau of Statistics had on Wednesday released the Gross Domestic Product figures for the second quarter of 2016, whose growth rate slid from -0.36 per cent in the first quarter to -2.06 per cent.

It also released the capital importation report for the second quarter, the unemployment statistics report, the inflation report for the month of July and the labour productivity report for the month of July, all of which painted a negative picture of the Nigerian economy with inflation rising as high as 17.1 per cent from 16.5 per cent, unemployment rate increasing to 13.3 per cent from 12.1 per cent and investment inflows dropping to its lowest levels at $647.1m from $710m.

But speaking to one of our correspondents in a telephone interview on Thursday, the President of MAN, Dr Frank Jacob, said the interest rate should be reduced from over 22 per cent to five per cent.

This, he added, would enable manufacturers to borrow for productive purposes.

He said, “Some of the requests that we’ve been making from the government should be looked into. To reflate this economy, they need to reduce the interest rate on loans to five per cent.

“They can also create a special window for manufacturers to source foreign exchange and make it readily available for them as and when they are needed. And of course, the issue of infrastructure should be addressed, especially power and road.”

Reacting, the Director-General, Nigeria Employers’ Consultative Association, Mr. Olusegun Oshinowo, said most nations that had been in recession embarked on prudent spending as a way out.

He said, “We have to be able to identify critical sectors of the economy that have impact on other sectors, such as infrastructure which is about road, rail, air and sea transportation. This sector makes for easy movement of goods and services from one location to the other and should be given a lot of attention by the government.

“The government should also settle domestic debts. People who have worked for government should be paid. The focus should also be on social infrastructure with initiatives like the National Health Insurance Scheme and others being empowered to promote health care in the nation.”

The Director-General, LCCI, Mr. Muda Yusuf, said what was important was to inspire the confidence of investors and called on more investment in infrastructure, adding that there was a need to fast-track the implementation of the 2016 budget so that funds could be released into the system for infrastructure development.

Another solution, according to the LCCI DG, was on the trade policies and the various tariffs, which he said the government needed to review downwards to drive down costs in the manufacturing sector.

“The rising inflation is cost-driven inflation owing to duties paid by manufacturers who import critical raw and packaging materials. The government should review the shipping charges and charges imposed by terminal operators so that the cost of manufacturing can go down.”

Vanguard with additional report from Punch

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WAIVER CESSATION: Igbokwe urges NIMASA to evolve stronger collaboration with Ships owners

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…Stresses the need for timely disbursement of N44.6billion CVFF***

Highly revered Nigerian Maritime Lawyer, and Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Mike Igbokwe has urged the Nigeria Maritime Administration and safety Agency (NIMASA) to partner with ship owners and relevant association in the industry to evolving a more vibrant merchant shipping and cabotage trade regime.

Igbokwe gave the counsel during his paper presentation at the just concluded two-day stakeholders’ meeting on Cabotage waiver restrictions, organized by NIMASA.

“NIMASA and shipowners should develop merchant shipping including cabotage trade. A good start is to partner with the relevant associations in this field, such as the Nigeria Indigenous Shipowners Association (NISA), Shipowners Association of Nigeria (SOAN), Oil Trade Group & Maritime Trade Group of the Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (NACCIMA).

“A cursory look at their vision, mission and objectives, show that they are willing to improve the maritime sector, not just for their members but for stakeholders in the maritime economy and the country”.

Adding that it is of utmost importance for NIMASA to have a through briefing and regular consultation with ships owners, in other to have insight on the challenges facing the ship owners.

“It is of utmost importance for NIMASA to have a thorough briefing and regular consultations with shipowners, to receive insight on the challenges they face, and how the Agency can assist in solving them and encouraging them to invest and participate in the maritime sector, for its development. 

“NIMASA should see them as partners in progress because, if they do not invest in buying ships and registering them in Nigeria, there would be no Nigerian-owned ships in its Register and NIMASA would be unable to discharge its main objective.

The Maritime lawyer also urged NIMASA  to disburse the Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund (CVFF)that currently stands at about N44.6 billion.

“Lest it be forgotten, what is on the lips of almost every shipowner, is the need to disburse the Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund (the CVFF’), which was established by the Coastal and Inland Shipping Act, 2003. It was established to promote the development of indigenous ship acquisition capacity, by providing financial assistance to Nigerian citizens and shipping companies wholly owned by Nigerian operating in the domestic coastal shipping, to purchase and maintain vessels and build shipping capacity. 

“Research shows that this fund has grown to about N44.6billion; and that due to its non-disbursement, financial institutions have repossessed some vessels, resulting in a 43% reduction of the number of operational indigenous shipping companies in Nigeria, in the past few years. 

“Without beating around the bush, to promote indigenous maritime development, prompt action must be taken by NIMASA to commence the disbursement of this Fund to qualified shipowners pursuant to the extant Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund (“CVFF”) Regulations.

Mike Igbokwe (SAN)

“Indeed, as part of its statutory functions, NIMASA is to enforce and administer the provisions of the Cabotage Act 2003 and develop and implement policies and programmes which will facilitate the growth of local capacity in ownership, manning and construction of ships and other maritime infrastructure. Disbursing the CVFF is one of the ways NIMASA can fulfill this mandate.

“To assist in this task, there must be collaboration between NIMASA, financial institutions, the Minister of Transportation, as contained in the CVFF Regulations that are yet to be implemented”, the legal guru highlighted further. 

He urged the agency to create the right environment for its stakeholders to build on and engender the needed capacities to fill the gaps; and ensure that steps are being taken to solve the challenges being faced by stakeholders.

“Lastly, which is the main reason why we are all here, cessation of ministerial waivers on some cabotage requirements, which I believe is worth applause in favour of NIMASA. 

“This is because it appears that the readiness to obtain/grant waivers had made some of the vessels and their owners engaged in cabotage trade, to become complacent and indifferent in quickly ensuring that they updated their capacities, so as not to require the waivers. 

“The cessation of waivers is a way of forcing the relevant stakeholders of the maritime sector, to find workable solutions within, for maritime development and fill the gaps in the local capacities in 100% Nigerian crewing, ship ownership, and ship building, that had necessitated the existence of the waivers since about 15 years ago, when the Cabotage Act came into being. 

“However, NIMASA must ensure that the right environment is provided for its stakeholders to build and possess the needed capacities to fill the gaps; and ensure that steps are being taken to solve the challenges being faced by stakeholders. Or better still, that they are solved within the next 5 years of its intention to stop granting waivers”, he further explained. 

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Breaking News: The Funeral Rites of Matriarch C. Ogbeifun is Live

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The Burial Ceremony of Engr. Greg Ogbeifun’s mother is live. Watch on the website: www.maritimefirstnewspaper.com and on Youtube: Maritimefirst Newspaper.

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Wind Farm Vessel Collision Leaves 15 Injured

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…As Valles Steamship Orders 112,000 dwt Tanker from South Korea***

A wind farm supply vessel and a cargo ship collided in the Baltic Sea on Tuesday leaving 15 injured.

The Cyprus-flagged 80-meter general cargo ship Raba collided with Denmark-flagged 31-meter wind farm supply vessel World Bora near Rügen Island, about three nautical miles off the coast of Hamburg. 

Many of those injured were service engineers on the wind farm vessel, and 10 were seriously hurt. 

They were headed to Iberdrola’s 350MW Wikinger wind farm. Nine of the people on board the World Bora were employees of Siemens Gamesa, two were employees of Iberdrola and four were crew.

The cause of the incident is not yet known, and no pollution has been reported.

After the collision, the two ships were able to proceed to Rügen under their own power, and the injured were then taken to hospital. 

Lifeboat crews from the German Maritime Search and Rescue Service tended to them prior to their transport to hospital via ambulance and helicopter.

“Iberdrola wishes to thank the rescue services for their diligence and professionalism,” the company said in a statement.

In the meantime, the Hong Kong-based shipowner Valles Steamship has ordered a new 112,000 dwt crude oil tanker from South Korea’s Sumitomo Heavy Industries Marine & Engineering.

Sumitomo is to deliver the Aframax to Valles Steamship by the end of 2020, according to data provided by Asiasis.

The newbuild Aframax will join seven other Aframaxes in Valles Steamship’s fleet. Other ships operated by the company include Panamax bulkers and medium and long range product tankers.

The company’s most-recently delivered unit is the 114,426 dwt Aframax tanker Seagalaxy. The naming and delivery of the tanker took place in February 2019, at Namura Shipbuilding’s yard in Japan.

Maritime Executive with additional report from World Maritime News

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