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Nigeria had no political will to save under Jonathan —Okonjo-Iweala

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  • Brazil Supreme Court upholds Rousseff impeachment vote

Erstwhile Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, has blamed the country’s present economic situation on the zero political will of the immediate past government  to save for the rainy day.

Speaking, yesterday, at the George Washington University, Washington D.C. Okonjo-Iweala said the Goodluck Jonathan administration differed seriously from the Olusegun Obasanjo administration under whose administration the Nigeria government saved $22 billion, which she said, helped to cushion the dryness that came the way of the country at the end of the last decade. Okonjo-Iweala served as finance minister under President Obasanjo between 2003 and 2006 and again under President Jonathan between 2011 and 2015.

The former finance minister and World Bank president, who spoke on “inequality, growth and resilience,” with Chile as an example of a country with a saving culture, was quoted by The Cable, an online news medium, to have said: *Ngozi-Okonjo-Iweala “We tried it in Nigeria, we put in an oil price based fiscal rule in 2004 and it worked very well.

“We saved $22 billion because the political will to do it was there. And when the 2008 /2009 crisis came, we were able to draw on those savings precisely to issue about a five per cent of GDP fiscal stimulus to the economy, and we never had to come to the Bank or the Fund. “This time around and this is the key now, you need not only to have the instrument, but you also need the political will. In my second time as a finance minister, from 2011 to 2015, we had the instrument, we had the means, we had done it before, but zero political will.

“So we were not able to save when we should have. That is why you find that Nigeria is now in the situation it is in. Along with so many other countries. “That is the question that I ask, what do we need to do to these countries to save over a period of long accelerated growth.

“We need to devise mechanisms not just that are good technically but find a way to either embed them in the constitution or find a way to separate them from the political manipulation so that these countries can survive over time. “To build resilience, African countries need tools, mechanisms and it is doable and we need to interrogate ourselves why we have not done it.”

The Cable further quoted her as saying that manufacturing was also critical to growth in Nigeria and the rest of Africa as she was reported to have said that manufacturing represented just 11 per cent of GDP in Africa. “I do not believe that we can be resilient, except if we can encourage manufacturing even on the goods we consume, services, entertainment industry, agriculture. “I think these are the kinds of questions that policy makers struggle with on a daily basis and that is what we are going to answer to get resilience.

“If we don’t get these mechanisms, we politicise them, find ways to transform the base of the economy and create jobs including in manufacturing, I believe we are going to go into this looming deceleration that is being talked about.”

In the meantime, Brazil’s Supreme Court has rejected a government injunction aimed at preventing an impeachment vote against President Dilma Rousseff.

Ms Rousseff, who says her opponents are plotting a “coup”, faces claims she manipulated government accounts.

She has vowed to fight to “the last minute” despite the desertion of three allied parties ahead of Sunday’s vote in the lower house of parliament.

The Supreme Court made its decision in an extraordinary session.

The impeachment debate in the lower house of parliament is due to start later on Friday and continue until Sunday’s vote. If two-thirds of MPs vote for impeachment, the motion will pass to the Senate.

An impeachment vote would pave the way for Ms Rousseff to be removed from office.

Thursday’s injunction to suspend the vote was filed by Attorney General Jose Eduardo Cardozo who claimed that alleged procedural failings had violated the president’s right to a defence.

Seven of 10 justices voted to reject the motion even before the Supreme Court session had finished.

The Progressive Party (PP), which quit the coalition on Tuesday, says most of its 47 MPs would vote for the impeachment, and the Republican Party (PRB) said its 22 members had been told to vote in favour.

The move comes weeks after the PMDB, the largest party in the lower house,voted to leave the coalition. The PMDB’s leader in the lower house, Leonardo Picciani, said on Thursday that 90% of the party’s members would vote to impeach Ms Rousseff.

MPs from her own Workers’ Party are said to be increasingly despondent about Sunday’s vote.

The allegations, which Ms Rousseff denies, are that she juggled the accounts to make her government’s economic performance appear better than it was, ahead of her election campaign two years ago.

The president’s supporters say the issue is not valid grounds for impeachment.

On Tuesday, Ms Rousseff seemed to suggest that her Vice-President, Michel Temer, was one of the ringleaders of the “coup” attempt against her.

She said a widely distributed audio message of Mr Temer appearing to accept replacing her as president was evidence of the conspiracy. However, she did not identify him by name.

Brazil is “living in strange times”, she said, “times of a coup, of farce and betrayal”.

MPs are due to start debating on Friday, with voting beginning on Sunday at about 14:00 (17:00 GMT). The result should be known later in the evening.

Security is expected to be stepped up around the Congress building in Brasilia as the vote takes place.

While President Rousseff’s opponents say the impeachment is supported by most Brazilians, the president’s supporters have labelled it a flagrant power grab by her political enemies.

If the president and Mr Temer were both suspended from office, the next in line to assume the presidency would be lower house speaker Eduardo Cunha.

However, he is facing money-laundering and other charges.

Vanguard with additional report from BBC

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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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