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Naira Appreciates To N300/ Dollar‏

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  • As MTN pays N50b after withdrawing suit against NCC
Central Bank of Nigeria’s (CBN) assurances that it had not placed restrictions on forex provision for school fees and medical tourism overseas may have stabilized the Naira,  providing the nation’s currency to appreciate as at yesterday N300 to a US Dollar.
The Naira crumbled last week,  following speculations that the CBN had placed  school fees and medical treatment on restriction,  as parents with wards abroad threw cautions to the winds,  and embarked on massive mop-up exercise,  in competition with those seeking  funds for treatments,  abroad.
Subsequently,  the Naira which,  following the CBN spirited enlightenment had deppreciated to N385 to a Dollar at the weekend,  appreciated to N350 on Monday; N310 on Tuesday, before settling for N300 on Wednesday.
The downward and upwards movements of the Naira all within 10 days may also have shown that in addition to the fact that the sliding fortunes of the Naira may not be solely blamed on the activities of the orchestrated Bureau de Change operators,  inability of the apex bank to sufficiently act proactively, may also remain,  a considerable factor.
Industry watchers highlighted their expectations of the Naira coming up to N250 per Dollar by next week,  even as they advised strongly on the need by the CBN to focus on fears of a dwindling foreign reserve,  presently at about $28bn, but to collaborate,  synergize and mobilize relevant public and private institutional stakeholders,  with the aim of thinking “beyond the box”.
“What else did you think the business mogul,  Ifeanyi Ubah was going to do,  when he said he could bring up the Naira to N200 per Dollar?  Where you expecting him to bring his personal cash to the bargain? Of course,  not! ” reasoned a respondent,  Oladele James,  lauding the CBN for its enlightenment campaign,  which he noted was timely.

In the meantime, MTN Nigeria has withdrawn its suit against the National Communications Commission (NCC) in respect of the N780 billion fine imposed on the company.

The company said it had paid N50billion to the Federal Government as it continues negotiation outside the court.

MTN’s Chief Executive Officer, Mr Ferdi Moolman, in a statement in Lagos said the withdrawal of the case followed renewed steps toward negotiation and settlement, and to create an atmosphere conducive for further negotiations.

The NCC had imposed a N1.04-trillion fine on MTN Nigeria last October for its failure to disconnect 5.1 million improperly registered lines within the prescribed deadline.

The MTN statement said: “MTN Nigeria today withdrew its case against the NCC at the Federal High Court, Lagos, in response to a request by the authorities.

“This is a most encouraging development; it demonstrates a willingness and sincerity by both parties to work together toward a positive outcome.’’

MTN Nigeria stated that the fine was adjusted by 25 per cent to N780 billion, an amount that was considered inimical to the survival of the business.

Subsequently, the telecom company sought judicial determination as means of protecting its business.

“We are hopeful at this stage; it is clear that we are collectively committed to work out a solution that is of mutual benefit to all parties.

“Our industry in Nigeria is an incredibly important example of the remarkable progress in ICT, particularly as a much- needed catalyst for socio-economic growth and development at this time,’’ Moolman added

Communications Technology Minister Adebayo Shittu, said in Lagos three weeks ago that the payment of a substantial part of the N780 billion fine remained a sine qua non for any out-of-court settlement.

The minister recalled that the ‘crime’ was committed the coming to power of President Muhammadu Buhari and how the MTN had written a letter admitting committing the ‘crime’ and pleading for leniency, with a pledge to turn a new leaf by becoming a law abiding corporate citizen.

The minister added that “nobody wants MTN dead as a Nigerian company with lots of Nigerians as employees.” He expressed surprise that after the President had granted a reprieve,the company went ahead to institute legal action against its regulator, adding however that the Federal Government will obey whatever becomes the outcome of the legal process.

Yesterday, Special Assistant on Media Affairs to the minister, Mr Victor Oluwadamilare, told The Nation that the government’s position on the matter had been made clear, but MTN went to Court for reasons best known to it.

He said: “Government’s position on the matter is sacrosanct. MTN secured 25 per cent reduction in the fine imposed by the regulatory body. Suddenly, it proceeded to court to challenge the government. Now we are told they have withdrawn the case from the Court and paid N50 billion.

“Well, I can tell you on behalf of the Minister of Communications and Technology that we are studying the situation. If it is confirmed that they have withdrawn the case from court and have paid the said amount, then the government will make its position known.”

Additional report from Nation

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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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