The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Alhaji Aminu Tambuwal, on Tuesday in Abuja decried the misappropriation of the cabotage vessel financing funds.
Tambuwal made this observation at an investigative hearing organised by the House of Representatives ad hoc committee to investigate the application of the cabotage vessels financing fund.
The cabotage financing funds is aimed at promoting the development of indigenous ship acquisition capacity by providing financial assistance to Nigerian operators.
Tambuwal said that in spite of the enactment of the cabotage Act in 2003, the Nigerian inland water ways remained “grossly a wasteland.
“The fear is that some unpatriotic people are misapplying the cabotage vessel financing funds to the detriment of its objectives,” he said.
According to him, the maritime sector has over the years, suffered from ineptitude caused by poor regulatory frame work.
The speaker said the hearing was not aimed at witch-hunting any individual or group, but aimed at repositioning the sector.
The speaker was represented at the occasion by the Deputy Leader of the House, Leo Ogor (PDP Delta).
In his presentation, the Minister of Transport, Alhaji Idris Umar, said that following the approval of the implementation guidelines, four banks were appointed as Primary Lending Institutions ( PLIs).
He said that beneficiaries of the cabotage fund were Nigerians and shipping companies wholly owned by Nigerians.
Umar said that the ministry had embarked on due diligence to ascertain that the funds were disbursed to bonafide beneficiaries.
The minister said that the waivers granted 10 Nigerian firms in 2010 were in accordance with the extant laws and guidelines.
He said that a committee had been set up to review the policy guidelines for granting of ministerial waivers on cabotage.
According to him, the committee has prepares a draft policy guideline and is awaiting approval.
Earlier, the Chairman of the committee, Rep. Christopher Eta (PDP-Cross River), said that it was the desire of the House to ensure that the cabotage Act was implemented.
He said that the essence of enacting the cabotage law was to develop the indigenous shipping industry in the cabotage sector of Nigerian maritime. (NAN)