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Shipping: Access to funding, dollar tax, others a major challenge – Shipowners

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By Godfrey Bivbere & Providence Emmanuel
NEWLY elected President of Ship Owners Association of Nigeria (SOAN), Mr. Greg Ogbeifun, has cited payment of taxes in dollars, poor access to funding and training of cadets as major challenges to the growth of the shipping industry in Nigeria.

Speaking at SOAN’s general election in Lagos, yesterday, Ogbeifun canvassed the need for the reversal of the dollar tax payment to ease compliance among ship owners.

Lamenting the constraints he stated: “Most times we compete with foreign vessel owners for tenders and these people have easy access to cheap fund and when we contest against them with the kind of interest we receive for our own fund, then the playing field is not level at all. Paying taxes in dollars when we are in Nigeria is contentious. We would love to see that it is reversed to make it easy for us to comply.”

In his acceptance speech, Ogbeifun who was re-elected President of STOAN, said that in the next two years, the association under his leadership would be engaging the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) on the issue of cabotage vessel financing while collaborating with the NNPC for the actualisation of a crude tanker fleet.

He said, “NIMASA on their own cannot act on that fund, they need people who need the funds for them to be able to release that fund. So we are going to engage NIMASA because a lot of our members are qualified for that fund. Almost all our members have contributed to that fund and I think they deserve to be given an opportunity to grow our fleet in that fund.”

On training of cadets, he said without them there would be no ships and there would be no future in the maritime sector. He stated, “We are going to crystalise and articulate a strategy of bringing all our vessels to be available for the training of cadets, working with NMASA and of cause the Maritime Academy, Oron, and other maritime institutions in the country to see that the standard is maintained and is global.”

On the cabotage act, he hinted that there was a need for review to further sharpen it to achieve the purpose for which it is there, adding that it is imperative to build indigenous capacity to compete with foreign players. “With respect to foreign vessels, if we don’t grow indigenous capacity to be able to engage in the jobs that are there, then the foreign players would come in. What we are saying is that the indigenous Nigeria shipowners need help to grow capacity in all area so that it can tackle any nature of job in the industry.”

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