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Maritime expert calls for import substitution regime to boost economy


Lagos – Maritime activities closed on Saturday with a Maritime Economist, Chief Kunle Folarin, suggesting that manufacturing industries should come on stream to put in place an import substitution regime.

Folarin, who is the Chairman, Nigerian Port Consultative Council (NPCC), made the suggestion in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos.

According to him, as an import-dependent economy, manufacturing for local demands is key and we must start to look at how to boost non-oil exports.

He said that exports would support Nigerian economy by providing foreign exchange in 2016 in order to have enough money to fund international trade.

“The key to economic boom in 2016 is to promote non-oil exports to sustain the economy,’’ the maritime economist said.

Folarin said that cargo volume in Nigerian ports might also drop in 2016 “unless there is enough foreign exchange to support imports’’

In the week under review, Nigeria Ship owners Association (NISA) said its partnership drive with the Greeks on acquisition of 40 ships “is being delayed by lack of jobs (cargoes)’’.

A mariner, Capt. Niyi Labinjo, told NAN that there were no contract for indigenous ship owners.

He, however, said there was an understanding with the Greeks and “the relationship is still blooming’’.

“If I do not have a job, if you give me one million ships, I will reject them.

“Why will I go and get into trouble. The ones (ships) that are here are not engaged; you want me to go and bring more and get into more trouble and be defaulting.

“When you talk about Cabotage; is exclusive. You do not think twice, because the working of Cabotage is dependent on availability of cargo or contract.

“So if I do not have a contract of what use will I go and bring another ship. It would now stand still and become another wreck,’’ Labinjo said.

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The mariner said that if the foreign vessels were prevented from coastal trade, it would give indigenous ship owners the opportunity to procure more vessels and create more jobs for the seafarers.

Also in the week, a maritime expert, Retired Rear Adm. Godwill Ombo, suggested that ship owners should form cooperative groups in order to have easy access to the Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund (CVFF).

Ombo, who is the Vice-Secretary, Society of Nigerian Mariners (SNM), said the cooperative group would serve as a formidable front for indigenous ship owners to benefit from the CVFF and grow.

He said this would enable indigenous ship owners to effectively participate in the Cabotage trade.

“The government, the minister of transport, Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, must do everything quickly to make the Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund, operational and accessible by indigenous ship owners.

“We must encourage people to go into indigenous shipping if we want to get the maritime industry to grow faster.

“Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation has a very critical role to play because it is worthless bringing in vessels and not being able to carry goods,’’ Ombo said.

During the week, the Tin-Can Island Port (TCIP) Command of Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), announced a revenue of N26.3 billion collected in November, up from N24.7 billion generated in October.

The Command’s Public Relations Officer, Mr Chris Osunkwo, told NAN that N15.1 billion was generated from import duty and fees, while N5.4 billion was generated from Value Added Tax (VAT).

He said Federation Account levies fetched N2.1 billion from charges on wheat flour, rice, cigar and wheat grain.

Osunkwo said N3.5 billion was collected on Sugar, Iron, Comprehensive Import Supervision Scheme (CISS) and ECOWAS Trade Liberalisation Scheme (ETLS) and paid into the Non-Federation Account.

“A lot of factors are responsible for the increase; particularly the warning by the Area Controller, Comptroller Zakari Jibrin that we must collect every kobo for government,’’ he said.

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