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Jonathan’s govt spent N825bn on travel, allowance in 3 years –FG

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The Efficiency Unit of the Federal Ministry of Finance yesterday disclosed that N828bn was spent as overhead expenditure on travel allowances, stationery and other expenditure items by top government functionaries and institutions from 2012 to 2014.

This is even as the Unit hinted that in furtherance of its efforts to re-prioritise spending and cut cost on recurrent expenditure, it was also planning to introduce detailed price guidelines to ensure value for money in procurement by Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs).

A statement by Special Assistant to the Finance Minister, Festus Akanbi, quoted the Head of the Efficiency Unit, Ms Patience Oniha, as making these disclosures at a Lagos event, adding that in order to reduce the incidence of cash, the deployment of Ministerial Debit Cards is being piloted.

She stated that findings by the Unit of huge overhead expenditures by political and public office holders in the MDAs were based on extensive and detailed review of the Overhead Expenditure data of government for the period 2012 to 2014. According to her, another finding from the review was the large expenditure on honoraria and sitting allowances, refreshment and meals, books, fuel, publicity and adverts, thereby making overheads expenditures to surpass capital allocations during the three-year period.

She said: “The Cumulative Expenditure on these five items was N825bn, representing 61 per cent of the Cumulative Total Overhead Expenditure of N1,353bn for 2012 to 2014. “This means that the average amount expended annually on these five items during this period was N275bn. The estimate for 2015 shows a continuation of this trend.” Oniha disclosed further than in relation to procurement, which has been identified as a major source of potential savings for government, the Efficiency Unit had prepared a list of goods and services which are regularly procured by MDAs. She pointed out that by pooling the demand of MDAs, there would be opportunities to leverage the resultant bargaining power and secure price discounts and other benefits from suppliers. This strategy will deliver savings and reduce the administrative costs inherent in the current procurement process, which is rather fragmented. “Developed countries such as the USA, UK, Canada and Hong Kong have used this strategy successfully to manage their expenditure.

Within Nigeria, large and diversified private sector organisations manage their procurement in a similar manner. “As a country, Nigeria should be no exception, more so when resources need to be managed tightly to promote spending on capital projects such as infrastructure,” she said. Oniha also disclosed that the Unit had initiated discussions with suppliers of air travel services for the purpose of price negotiation, adding that this expenditure item was prioritised because local and international travels represented the single largest overhead expenditure item in the period under review, with an average of N83bn spent annually. This presents a potential savings opportunity of N4.14bn annually at an estimated price discount of five per cent.

The Unit Head explained that honoraria and sitting allowances was another expenditure item where the Unit has identified potential for cost savings, representing one of the top eight expenditure areas with an average of almost N13bn spent yearly She assured that, with the support of the Minister, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, she was confident that the Unit will pursue the implementation of its recommendations to deliver cost savings to government, while it continues its engagement with stakeholders in order to achieve its objectives.

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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