By Godfrey Bivbere
OPERATORS in the maritime industry are divided over the comment of the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, Mr. Godwin Emefiele, that the economic recession in the country would be over before the end of the year.
While most of them expressed hope of government achieveing the feat at the said time, others questioned governments plans to overcoming the recession. However, some others stressed that recovery from recession would not be of any benefit to the industry.
Engr. Greg Ogbeifun, Chairman of the Ship Owners Association of Nigeria, SOAN, while expressing hope that government will be able to get the economy out of the recession. However, said he could not comment on the claim since he does not know the basis on which the statement was made.
According to the SOAN chairman, “I am not competent to comment on the claim of the CBN governor because I do not know on what basis he said what he has said.
That is all I can say at the moment. I will hope that the economy can come round the bend so that it can bring respite to Nigerians.
“You are a Nigerian like me; if we are able to get the economy out of the woods in the shortest possible time, why will that not have a positive impact on you? It will definitely have positive impact on Nigerians and the economy in general. It will help every Nigerians to get out of the present economic hardship we are all going through.”
Former National President of the Nigerian Trawler Owners Association, NITOA, Margaret Orakwusi, said that it is heartwarming if government is able to get the economy out of the present situation but it would not have any effect on the maritime industry.
Orakwusi noted that investment in the industry is capital intensive and that the absence of single digit funding in the sector has been a problem, pointing out that even when the economy gets out of the recession it would not have any meaningful impact on the sector. “I know the main problem in the industry is funding, lack of cheap funding, we have interest rate at double digits. I can’t see any significant effect it will have on the maritime sector, the cost of funding is too high and investment in the maritime industry is capital intensive. There is nothing wrong in keeping hope alive, let’s be positive.
“We have a lot of human resources, we have natural resources and if properly harnessed we should be able to come out of the recession but then we have to build on our export.
If we do not build on our export by diversification of the economy and we are still relying on crude oil, then there is a problem.
“You can see how the prices are coming down, since we are spending more than we are earning, our income as a nation is in foreign currency, so we must pay attention to the things that we can earn foreign currency from. So right now we are spending more than we are earning and that is where the problem is.”