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FG plans incentives for indigenous shipowners

The Federal Government has informed indigenous shipowners  of special incentives being planned for them.

The Executive Secretary of the Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC), Mr. Emmanuel Jime, who disclosed this during a meeting with owners of indigenous shipping companies, said the government would soon unveil the incentives.

Jime who received the executive members of the Nigerian Shipowners Association (NISA) during a courtesy visit said that the incentives will enable them acquire and maintain their existing vessels.

According to him, the incentives include zero import duty of vessels, abolition of the controversial temporary importation permit introduced by the Nigeria Customs Service as well as the establishment of a Shipping Sector Support Fund.

Describing ship ownership as representing a central core in the maritime industry, Jime said that “if Nigeria is actually going to take its rightful place and be recognized as a maritime hub, then ship ownership would become topical as far as the industry is concerned”

He added, “So, that to me is the reason why I consider this visit as one of the most important engagements I’ve had since my arrival in this assignment.”

The Executive Secretary who is also Chairman, Nigerian Fleet Implementation Committee, added that except the Nigerian ship owning community experiences growth and becomes competitive enough to take centre stage in shipping activities; Nigeria may not derive maximum value from the maritime sector.

He said that the Nigerian Fleet Implementation Committee has the responsibilities of mobilising the public and private sectors to be able to set up a strong ship ownership community.

He said, “We have also been mandated to develop a framework that would support the establishment of a sustainable Nigerian Fleet. Also, we are given the responsibility to develop strategies that will incentivise; in other words, incentives that are needed to be put in place. These are strategies that will engender incentives for ship owners.

“We are also saddled with the responsibility to set out action items that would encourage the development of shipbuilding and ship repair facilities. Then we will provide guidelines and recommendations to augment the maritime manpower capacity.

“What are the incentives? The first, which I believe, is topical and we have been discussing it a little while is the ability to access zero import duty of vessels. I know that part of that has been achieved but there are lots more to go down the road to abolish temporary importation permit to impose stringent measures. This concerns the Nigeria Customs Service.

“We believe that the key incentive is the Shipping Sector Support Fund. We are talking of shipping and it is an area that is highly capital intensive. So if you are able to put that job of the fund in place as incentive, other things would be easier. We also believe that waiver of export tariffs for the use of Nigerian vessels is also key.”

The Chairman of Nigerian Shipowners Association (NISA) Steering Committee, Prince Sunday Omatseye, had during the visit said it was mainly to partner with the NSC ES.

Omatseye said that the position of ship owners cannot be under-emphasised, requesting that the association would want to be invited in subsequent meetings as against the trend in the past.

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