Nigeria’s waters safe for investments, FG tells investors in US …As NIMASA mulls special tax regime for maritime industry
BY FRANCIS EZEM
The Federal Government has assured the international oil and gas community that Nigeria’s maritime industry is safe for investment and that special a tax regime is being considered as part of efforts to grow capacity for the industry.
Addressing Journalists at a technical workshop on deep sea exploration on the sidelines of the ongoing Offshore Technology Conference OTC in Houston Texas, the Permanent Secretary Federal Ministry of Transport Alhaji Sabiu Zakari noted that Nigeria is aware of the drift towards deep sea exploration and that policies to enhance effective maritime transport are now being considered by the Federal Government.
Alhaji Zakari said the recent report by the International Maritime Bureau IMB, which showed that piracy has declined in Nigerian Waters in the first quarter of 2019 is an attestation that efforts of the President Buhari led administration in enhancing safety and security in the maritime domain has started yielding results.
“Nigerian waters are safe, NIMASA’s deep blue project in collaboration with the Nigerian Navy, and all other security agencies in Nigeria is already in motion and will use the latest technology to track all vessels in Nigerian waters and reduce criminality to the barest minimum. Foreigners with genuine business interest are welcome to invest in Nigeria. So many have come and are enjoying benefits of their investment.” He said.
Meanwhile, Director General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA, Dr. Dakuku Peterside said the agency has commenced regulatory reforms to ensure a business friendly maritime environment to spur economic growth hinged on both foreign and indigenous investments. He assured the international community that NIMASA is committed to growing in-country capacity so that collaboration between Nigerian and foreigners can take place without fear of compromising standards.
According to him, “We are building up capacity, and creating the right regulatory framework for the Nigeria’s maritime industry. We believe that our three dimensional approach of creating the right regulatory environment, providing easy asses to capital, build capacity, and facilitate access to business opportunities will hasten the indigenous capacity development. Regulations ought not to stifle businesses; regulations ought to support business, spur economic growth without endangering the environment and the people.”
Speaking further on Cabotage implementation in Nigeria, Dr. Peterside said that the agency is in discussion with the Federal Ministry of Finance and the Nigeria Customs Service on the need to create a special tariff regime for those importing vessels and vessel parts into the country
“At the moment, a Temporary Import Permit mainly granted foreigners attract just one per cent but importing vessel by Nigerians attract 13 per cent, so it is difficult to compete. We are engaging the Nigeria Customs Service on the need to review this regime. We have also made appreciable progress in our discussions with the Central Bank of Nigeria to see Nigerians in the maritime industry have access to single digit facilities so they can compete favorably with their international peers.” He said.
The Chief Operating Officer Upstream of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation NNPC, Alhaji Bello Rabiu, while speaking during his visit to the NIMASA’s stand at the OTC, commended the current management of the agency for its efforts in seeking collaboration to grow the industry in Nigeria.
On his part, the First Governor of Rivers State and Amayanabo of Brass Bayelsa State, His Royal Majesty Alfred Diete Spiff who led the Bayelsa delegation to the OTC, commended NIMASA for its commitment to capacity development particularly for its role in the establishment of the Nigerian Maritime University Okerenkoko and called for more of such specialised universities to be established in the country to stem capital flight.