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SIFAX: CBN’S Forex Policy To Grow Throughput – Bulangu

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  • As Buratai declared $1.5M Dubai mansions in wife’s name to Conduct Bureau

The Ports and Cargo Handling Services Limited, Acting Managing Director, Alhaji Mohammed Bulangu has lauded the new Central Bank of Nigeria’s (CBN) new flexible foreign exchange (forex) policy, indicating that the regime would no doubt lead to a faster throughout growth in the maritime sector.

The new forex policy allows commercial banks to transfer foreign currency in customers’ domiciliary accounts to their local and international business partners, subject to a daily cumulative limit of $10,000.

The Ports and Cargo, a subsidiary of SIFAX Group Boss made the observation in Lagos, while reviewing the impact the new policy would have on the country’s maritime industry, stressing that it signifies a new dawn for both the port terminal operators and their clients, particularly importers, who had hitherto experienced a great deal of difficulties in sourcing foreign exchange for their business transactions.

“The new forex policy by the Federal Government is a welcome development. Prior to this, importers found it difficult to get dollars to do their businesses and this greatly affected almost all the stakeholders in the industry, especially the port operators as there was a sharp decline in throughput and as a consequence, loss of revenue.

“I can tell you that within these few weeks of this new forex policy, the signs are already there that the sector would gain tremendously. More activities are now returning to the terminal, which is a good sign for us as operators and the country’s economy as a whole.

“The maritime sector has the potentials to be one of the mainstays of the Nigerian economy. Like the Minister of Transportation said recently, the sector should be providing about a quarter of the nation’s annual budget. I believe it is achievable and the new forex policy is a step towards achieving this,” he said.

Bulangu further noted that the outlook for the sector in the second half of the year is very positive, adding that with the expected surge in throughput volume and increase revenue, the sector is well positioned to contribute substantially to the country’s economy.

In the meantime, the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) has opened up on the acquisition of $1.5 million mansions by the Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Tukur Yusuf Buratai.

The bureau said its records showed that the assets of Buratai in Dubai were declared in his wife’s name

The CCB made the clarification in a July 11 letter by Mrs. Ijeanuli Arinze Ofor, to Ugochukwu Osuagwu of St. Francis Xavier Solicitors and Advocates in Abuja.

Osuagwu had requested information on Buratai “pursuant to Section 1 and 4 of the Freedom of Information Act 2011.

The CCB said: “We refer to your mail dated Jun 29, 2016. We wish to state here that Gen. Tukar Yusuf Buratai, after his appointment as the Chief of Army Staff, declared his assets as required by the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

“He was served the Form CCB-I on July 21, 2015, and returned same on August 21, 2015.

“We also wish to confirm that his property at Dubai was declared in the wife’s name. Please, accept the warmest regards of the chairman.”

In a June 29, 2016, letter of the chairman of the Code of Conduct Bureau, Osuagwu sought clarification on whether or not Buratai declared the controversial mansions.

The letter said: “We request that the CCB, pursuant to the FOI Act 2011, avail us the following concerning the declarations of Gen. Tukur Yusuf Buratai.

“On July 13, 2015, President Muhammadu Buhari appointed Gen. Buratai as Chief of Army Staff. The newspapers are awash that Gen. Buratai and his two wives in 2013 paid 1,498,534.00 AED (N120 million/ $419,000) for a Dubai property, Project TFG Marina Hotel, Unit 2711.

“Sale documents indicated that the property was handed over to the Buratais on January 13, 2013, prior to his appointment as the Chief of Army Staff.

“For the purpose of clarity sir, we request you as follows: (1) Confirm if Gen.Tukur Yusuf Buratai declared his asset with you upon his appointment on July 13, 2015, as Chief of Army Staff; (2) Whether the above property he bought with his wife was also declared with the CCB.

“Kindly avail us a reply within the time allowed under the Freedom of Information Act 2011 as much as you can sir.”

The Executive Chairman of Coalition Against Corrupt Leaders (CACOL), Mr. Debo Adeniran, said assets declarations to the CCB, by public officials,  should be made public for the purpose of transparency and public scrutiny.

Adeniran, who made his position known in a statement in Lagos, said public officers should not hide their assets.

He, however, asked the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to probe Gen. Buratai.

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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