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FG seeks $2bn Chinese loan to fund budget

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The Finance Minister, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, will travel to China next week to negotiate a $2bn loan to help fund the record budget spending, financial and government, sources were yesterday quoted by News Agency Reuters.

Sources said Nigeria has shelved plans to meet investors about returning to commercial borrowing on the Eurobond market.

One Nigerian government official told Reuters that any loan agreed during Mrs Adeosun’s trip could be signed by President Muhammadu Buhari in Beijing next month.

“The finance minister, in the company of the Central Bank Governor Godwin Emefiele, is scheduled to be in China sometime next week to conclude negotiations on the $2 billion loan,” said the official, who asked not to be named. The official acknowledged negotiations had been underway for some time and that the terms had yet to be agreed.

However, he added: “Hopefully it may be sorted out during this meeting and the loan will be signed during President Buhari’s visit to China next month.”

The Central Bank could not confirm whether Emefiele would be joining Mrs Adeosun. No official of the Ministry of Finance contacted last night was willing to make any comment. Nigeria wants to raise about $5 billion abroad to cover part of its 2016 budget deficit. This is projected to hit N3 trillion ($15 billion) due to heavy infrastructure spending at a time when the slump in global oil prices has slashed export revenues. Buhari wants to turn around the economy by investing in power plants and transport.

The president asked China last December to fund rail and power projects and Mrs Adeosun, who already visited Beijing last week, has raised the possibility of seeking a loan from the Export-Import Bank of China. Nigeria had wanted to raise $1 billion from Eurobond investors but has dropped plans to sound them out at a non-deal “road show” which the Finance ministry had tentatively planned for March, financial sources say. “They will wait a bit with a road show as they wouldn’t be able to get a good deal,” said one source familiar with the ministry’s plans.

With world markets in turmoil, investors are wary of lending to anything but highly-rated rate emerging economies. Nigeria’s reluctance to devalue the naira, which has plunged on the black market, would further discourage investors, meaning the cost of commercial borrowing would be prohibitive.

That puts pressure on Africa’s biggest economy and top oil producer to borrow more from other sources, such as China. Nigeria had up to now planned to raise around $4 billion at concessionary interest rates from sources such as the World Bank. While the government official foresaw a $2 billion China loan, a financial source put the amount at more than $1 billion.

The Finance ministry could not be immediately reached for comments. Mrs Adeosun has said Abuja has held “explanatory talks” with the World Bank. It has also asked the African Development Bank for a $1 billion budget support loan.

A World Bank loan would probably be tied to specific goals with strings attached. As well as infrastructure projects, Nigeria also wants loans to refinance existing debt, one financial source said – an idea that would be hard to sell to the World Bank or other development-focused lenders.

The World Bank has confirmed talks have been held on “Development Policy Operation” funding, which typically aims to improve infrastructure and create jobs. The multilateral lender has been studying projects to fight poverty in the North. If talks with China or multilateral agencies fail, Nigeria would struggle to find willing commercial lenders.

“It’s going to be difficult for issuers to come to market now unless they are at the high end of the credit quality spectrum,” said Zsolt Papp, client portfolio manager at JPMorgan Asset Management.
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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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