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Govt prepares N350bn stimulus package for economy – Adeosun

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  • As Senate Finally gets clean copy of 2016 budget

The Nigerian government will inject N350 billion into the economy in the next few months to stimulate it. The government’s plan was announced at the end a two-day National Economic Council (NEC) retreat held at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, the nation’s capital.

Explaining that the Federal Government is keen at using the 2016 budget to fast-track economic diversification, the Minister of Finance, Mrs Kemi Adeosun, said efforts had been put in place to ensure that the spending on the capital projects trickles down to all Nigerians.

Mrs Adeosun, in her paper at the second day of the National Economic Council retreat in Abuja, said: “We are going to spend money and this will be done in a disciplined manner and in right places. “The Federal Government has a platform and system of control in place to ensure transparency. Spending will not be reckless. “We are pumping 350 billion Naira into the economy in the next one quarter to help the economy to bounce back. That has never happened in the history of this country”.

According to her, part of the money would be used to offset contractual debts. With this huge spending, the minister believed that “companies that had laid off staff and those that had abandoned projects are going back to sites and the economy will bounce back”. “Our priority is that the wages of workers will be paid. We have engaged the contractors to let them know that the payment of management fees has to wait, this is how to make the money to trickle down to Nigerians,” she told the gathering. The Minister further urged state governments to take their destinies in their own hands by proactively driving revenue generation, saying “now is the time to put in place a robust revenue drive by the states”.

“There is need to have a business and commercial approach to revenue generation,” she emphasised. Mrs Adeosun also stressed the need for the Nigerian government to look at data management, saying “nobody can succeed in revenue generation without the numbers. It is important to report accurately and understand the billings versus the revenue coming in”. She told the gathering that the Finance Ministry had already strengthened the Post-Mortem Sub-Committee of the Federation Account.

“The big differences between the NNPC and the Federation accounts are now things of the past. “We now run a transparent structure. We have appointed three professionals to help clean the system. They write formal reports and get formal responses to all the questions,” she said. Speaking on the plans for the Customs service, the minister said the Federal Government had agreed to review the remunerations of the Customs Service.

“We look at the Customs and found out that it has one of the lowest salaries at least from their peer group. That is a problem. Here you have a custom officer being paid 50, 000 Naira monthly and you task him to collect duty of nearly two million Naira. “This means we are looking for trouble. So we are working on better remuneration for the Customs. “The other issue is the equipment being used by the agency. Their ability to scan containers is very important. Classifications of containers are faulty now because of the kind of equipment they use. Ability to scan a container and know what is in it is limited,” the Minister stated.

Some other resolutions reached at the retreat which she read out to reporters were focused on increasing Internally Generated Revenue and fostering collaboration between Federal and State Inland Revenues to ensure there was an alignment. The retreat was said to have been muted by the Nigerian Governors Forum to find a solution to the economic problems they had faced over time.

To solve the problems, the Chairman of the National Economic Council convened the two-day retreat. Other resolutions reached at the retreat were read out by the Minister of Budget and National Planning, Udo Udoma. The Governor of Anambra State, Willie Obiano said a resolution was reached on the integration of trading in infrastructure projects and investing in the Nigerian people through the school feeding programme.

The National Economic Council also established two committees, one of them headed by the Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, to monitor the full implementation of the resolutions from the retreat, as well as provide a progress report on the implementation.

In the meantime, after several postponements, the Committee on Appropriations yesterday laid the clean copy of the 2016 budget before the senate. Also laid before the senate is the Medium Term Expenditure Framework, MTEF, and the Fiscal Strategy Paper, FSP. The two documents were presented by the Appropriations Committee Chairman, Senator Danjuma Goje. The committee had on three different occasions, since last month, postponed the presentation of the final copy of the budget for passage into law.

The committee had cited the issue of padding and other forms of manipulation of the document by the Ministries, Departments and Agencies of Government, MDAs, as reasons why it needed extra time to thoroughly go through the budget. However, debate on the document was put off till today when lawmakers are expected to consider and probably pass it before commencing their Easter break.

The inability of the senate to commence debate on the budget yesterday was as a result of the death of one of their colleagues from the House of Representatives, Hon. Musa Onwana from Toto Federal Constituency in Nasarawa State, who died on March 17. It was in keeping with the tradition of the National Assembly not to sit each time a lawmaker died that the senate postponed debate on the budget. House of Representatives Committee on Appropriation, also yesterday, laid the appropriation bill report at plenary for consideration and passage. The House also could not proceed following the death of Onwana.

Channels with additional report from National Mirror

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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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