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Agents seek urgent disbursement of Cabotage fund



Licensed customs agents have called on the Federal Government to urgently disburse the Cabotage Vessels Financing Funds to enable indigenous shipowners to acquire more vessels.

The founder of the National Council of Managing Directors of Licensed Customs Agents, Mr Lucky Amiwero, disclosed this in a telephone interview with The PUNCH on Wednesday.

 “Nigeria can’t have this type of fund and have no ship and we are talking about blue economy. We must look at all these things critically. If you look at our industry, you have a port that does not have a rail. A port without rail can never maximise profit instead it is expenses,” he added.

The Cabotage Vessel  Financing Fund was established under the Coastal and Inland Shipping (Cabotage) Act of 2003, to offer financial assistance and create access to funding by financial institutions with the sole aim of increasing indigenous ship acquisition capacity.

The fund is to be disbursed by banks through the approval of The Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency.

Amiwero noted that agents had a bleak Yuletide because of the fuel subsidy removal and the floating exchange rate.

 “There is a policy issue, especially when the subsidy is removed because it has affected everybody. Secondly, the floating exchange rate has affected a lot of things because, if you look at imports it has dropped. Many people celebrated Christmas in pain,” he said.

Other agents who spoke with the PUNCH in separate chats, claimed they experienced low patronage during the Yuletide, as there had been a significant drop in the volume of imports.

A former Murtala International Airport Chapter Chairman of the National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders, Oluwasegun Musa, said “The story is true because there is a surge in the exchange rate introduced by the CBN, which reduced the volume of imports. The end of the year is always a period when people bring in so many goods.

 “The surge in the exchange rate made the volume of imports reduce drastically. So, it reduced the capacity of individuals, especially the volume of imports.

“When the volume of imports is reduced, it affects the prices of commodities in the market. So, Nigeria celebrated both Christmas and New Year in pain,” Musa added.



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