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Stakeholders Want FG To Establish Maritime Bank

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In its quest to ensure the growth and development of the maritime sector in line with the Presidential order on the Ease of Doing Business in Nigeria, the Federal Government is set to automate all shipping related administrative processes in order to reduce subjectivity and corruption, thereby promoting transparency in the Nigerian maritime industry.
This is one of the major consensus reached in the communiqué issued at a one-day maritime stakeholders’ interactive forum held in Warri, Delta State with the theme; “Implementation of Executive Order One (1) – Ease of Doing Business in a Secure Maritime Environment”.
According to the 18- point communiqué, stakeholders agreed that in order to realise the desired accelerated growth of the Nigerian maritime sector, the Ministry of Transportation and its agencies should explore alternate financing windows such as the establishment of Maritime Bank to address the financing gap created by the unsuitability of lending rates of Nigerian banks for the shipping business; consider reviving NIMAREX as a platform for bridging the gap between the Nigerian shipping industry and prospective international investors so as to provide impetus for growth and investment.
Furthermore, it was established in the communiqué that the ministry and its agencies should take urgent steps to address the challenge of under-declaration of cargo by ships calling at Nigerian ports to plug the substantial revenue leakage thus created; that the Ministry and its agencies should cause the urgent dredging of the Escravos Bar to facilitate the access of large dry cargo vessels into Warri ports.
On the issue of safety and security of the maritime space, stakeholders were also of the view that the ministry and its agencies should collaborate with the maritime communities with a view to relying on their local knowledge and intelligence for fighting maritime crimes like piracy, and vessel hijack.
Also, the need for manpower development and capacity building was discussed as the communiqué urged that the ministry and its agencies should consider a return to the former system whereby the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), National Inland Waterways Agency (NIWA) and the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) all contributed to the training of master mariners who are currently counted at 180 with more than 75% above the retirement age.
The issue of the Apapa gridlock and access road challenges was not left out as stakeholders charged the Ministry and its Agencies to consider establishing transit parks for trucks waiting to access the ports and implement an automated call-up system that prevents their proliferation around the ports.
Other areas highlighted are; that the Ministry and its Agencies should consider establishing Complaints Desks and online feedback platforms to promote the ease of doing business in Nigerian maritime industry; amongst other pressing issues, all geared toward the realization of a robust and business friendly maritime sector that can compete favourably with its counterparts in other climes.
Corroborating the stakeholders yearnings as stated in the communiqué, the Director General of NIMASA
Dr. Dakuku Peterside stated that the Federal Government through the Ministry of Transportation and other Agencies under the Ministry will continue to work hard to ensure less human contacts with processes in the maritime sector, which is intended to give way to transparency and discourage sharp practices in the sector and assured the forum that all the points raised will be given urgent and due attention.
“The Federal Ministry of Transportation shapes the policy that drives the industry and we are servants in the industry; hence we will join hands with all Stakeholders to build this industry in order to be able to continue to provide economic opportunities for our people. I therefore charge you all to shape opinions that will help Nigerians know that some people are working hard to take the maritime sector to the next level,”  Peterside said.
On their parts, the Executive Secretary of the Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC), Barrister Hassan Bello and the Managing Director of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Ms. Hadiza Bala Usman, also lent their voices and unanimously agreed that automation of all processes and collaboration with all stakeholders are keys to realizing a robust maritime sector, which also demands the support of all industry players.
Buhari said at the presentation that the budget would drive rapid economic recovery.
The president said that, with a benchmark of 45 dollars per barrel of crude oil at an exchange rate of N305 to a dollar in 2018, the budget would consolidate on the achievements of previous budgets to aggressively steer the economy to the path of steady growth.

 

Nkpemenyie McDominic, Lagos

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FG To Revive 46 Abandoned Housing Projects Across Nig

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The Federal Government, through the Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria(FMBN), has initiated a rehabilitation process to revive about 46 abandoned housing projects nationwide.
The bank said this would be achieved through a partnership with Shelter Afrique Development Bank, a Pan-African finance institution that exclusively supports the development of the housing and real estate sector in Africa.
The FMBN Managing Director, Shehu Usman Osidi, stated this while hosting the management of Shelter Afrique Development Bank recently in Abuja, noting that the bank had made reviving the housing estates a priority.
According to him, the intensified collaboration will help provide construction and mortgage financing to developers in Nigeria.
He said, “Nigeria has over 46 abandoned projects in the 36 states and the FMBN is determined to revive them.
“Our findings show that banks have entered into a housing financing agreement with states where the state governments are expected to provide infrastructure for these estates, but unfortunately many states reneged and the projects were abandoned.
“We have explored the product offerings of Shelter Afrique Development Bank and found out that they offer infrastructure financing, so we want to bring them on board to offer this financing so we can finish up the projects and hand them over to many Nigerians who need shelter.”
Osidi further noted that Nigeria, the second largest shareholder in the bank with about 15 per cent holding, will explore areas of funding to achieve its target of delivering 100,000 housing units to Nigerians this year.
He mentioned that the FMBN is currently reviewing previously abandoned memoranda of understanding that were signed with the organisation. This review is aimed at exploring the benefits that Nigerians could gain from this renewed partnership.
Also speaking, the CEO of Shelter Afrique, Thierno-Habib Hann, said the organisation was in Nigeria to promote its development financing agenda and identify Nigeria as a destination for investments with over $25bn in Diaspora remittances each year.
He said, “We are ready to collaborate with FMBN and other institutions across Nigeria to address the housing gap. The challenges are there and the opportunities are also there. As a development finance institution, we are very well positioned to collaborate with the government of Nigeria and in this trip, we met all the leadership including the vice president of the Federal  Republic of Nigeria who is fully committed to driving the growth of the sector and invest more in the sector knowing that housing creates jobs.”
Meanwhile, the bank has said it collected about N100billion in remittances through the National Housing Fund (NHF) in 2023.
The NHF scheme was established by the Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria to facilitate the continuous flow of low-cost funds for long-term investment in housing, through 2.5 per cent monthly deductions from employees earning a basic salary.

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Master Bakers Strike; Factional Group Pulls Out

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A factional group, the Supreme Bakers and Confectioners Association of Nigeria(SBCAN), has opted out from the announced strike of the Association of Master Bakers and Caterers of Nigeria (AMBCON).
AMBCON had on February 14th announced it’s proposed strike which  commenced yesterday February 27th due to Federal Government’s failure to honour agreement reached with the association in 2020.
The association also called for temporary suspension of all forms of taxation on the bakery industry at the Federal, State and Local Government levels.
However, in a statement on Monday, some bakers under the umbrella of Supreme Bakers and Confectioners Association of Nigeria said embarking on strike at a time Nigerians are going through a lot is uncalled for and could exacerbate the situation.
Acting National President of the association, Edmund Egbuji, in a statement on Monday, urged all members of the group not to participate in the strike.
”The Board of Trustee (BOT) chairman and the entire members of the board in conjunction with the national exco of Supreme Bakers and Confectioners Association of Nigeria wish to bring to the notice of the general public that Supreme Bakers Association will not embark on a nationwide withdrawal of services (strike) proposed by some bakers association in the country.
“Supreme bakers deem it as unpatriotic at this time of food insecurity and scarcity in the country. Going on strike will never be an option rather the government through its relevant ministries should call for a roundtable discussion to cushion the effects of food scarcity plight.
“All members of the supreme bakers are hereby directed to go about the business of feeding the nation as any contrary action will add to the pains of the overstretched citizens”, the statement posited.

Corlins Walter

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Price Hike: BCPG  Fears Increased Building Collapse 

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The Building Collapse Prevention Guild(BCPG) has expressed concern that the continuous rise in  prices  in building materials may lead to an increase in the use of substandard goods, exacerbating building collapse in the country.
National President of BCPG, Sulaiman Yusuf, stated this during the BCPG sensitisation walks, with the theme “Walking towards Zero Building Collapses,” held in Lagos .
He said, “The expected rise in the cost of building materials such as cement, fittings, and even wages for artisans and professionals in the built environment would eventually have a ripple effect that would see a further proliferation of substandard goods as more builders seek to cut cost by all means and an increase in the patronage of quacks and untrained artisans.
“The effects of these emerging menaces may not be felt immediately, but in three to four years, we may begin to see even more building collapses.
“This sensitisation walk is, therefore, an opportunity to bring this emerging challenge to our attention and is also a call to action.
“The Ministry of Physical Planning and the Office of Urban Development have strong roles to play. They must double their efforts in ensuring that building standards are kept by all builders and must begin to fund research or operationalise the results of previous research on local building materials.”
According to Yusuf, it has become necessary to look inward to reduce the effects of a depreciating naira.
“The Standard Organisation of Nigeria also must take extra care in ensuring that only quality building materials are in the market. We must have a hard line on this,” he advised.
Yusuf emphasised that the plummeting value of the naira, reaching nearly N1,500 against the dollar within six-month would result in a continuous escalation of building material prices.
He stated, “The government must train even more artisans and professionals in the built environment. It is my strong opinion that each local government area must have at least one training school where youths can get trained and become skilled in different areas of the built industry.
“Also, special scholarships should be provided for students offering courses in the built environment to encourage more of them to participate effectively. The youth must be encouraged to know that they do not need to ‘japa’ or turn to a life of crime to become successful in life.
“Regulatory fees should also be reviewed, as the government is advised to see the Ministry of Physical Planning and the Office of Urban Development as agencies for regulation and not revenue generation.”

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