The The Coasting Trade Vessel Financing Fund has grown from $195 million to $350 million in 2022, representing a 79.4% increase.

Minister of State for Transport, Gbemisola Saraki, hinted at the hint this weekend during a ministerial briefing with maritime journalists in Lagos after a week-long inspection tour of the Lagos and Tin port complexes. Can Island.

Saraki, while answering questions from maritime correspondents, revealed that the money in the CVFF account now stood at $350 million, equivalent to N210 billion.

It will be recalled that the Federal Government, in 2003, created the CVFF to address the lack of capacity of indigenous shipowners in Nigeria.

The CVFF was inserted into the Coastal and Inland Shipping Act 2003, otherwise known as the Coasting Trade Act 2003, to provide funds for the acquisition of vessels among indigenous operators.

The source of the fund is a 2% contribution from indigenous vessel owners on each contract executed in national waters.

The CVFF disbursement is supported by the provisions of Section 42(1)-(2) of the Coasting Trade Act 2003, which aims to promote the development of national vessel acquisition capacity by providing financial assistance to Nigerian inland cabotage operators.

Former transport minister Rotimi Amaechi had in 2021 said the fund had grown to $195 million between 2003 and 2021.

Amaechi had, in 2020, set up a committee to develop new guidelines for the disbursement of the fund. Part of the new guidelines provided that only indigenous shipowners who had contributed to the fund were eligible to access the loan.

Saraki, however, expressed regret over the CVFF’s non-disbursement, describing it as a national disgrace.

According to her, it is rather a pity that no indigenous shipowner has been able to access the fund which was to enable them to acquire ships nearly 20 years after its creation.

She assured the indigenous shipowners that the fund was still intact, contrary to speculation by some that it could have been misappropriated.

“The guidelines for the disbursement of the fund have been formulated and will soon be presented to the National Assembly for approval. It would be immediately followed by the actual disbursement of the funds to the beneficiaries already pre-selected.

“The delay in disbursement is not the fault of the Federal Ministry of Finance, but rather of obtaining approval of the guidelines for disbursement from the National Assembly. This would be done in no time.

She assured stakeholders that with the commissioning of the African Continental Free Trade Area, the fund would surely be disbursed.

“It is really very disheartening that the fund has not been disbursed, but we will work with the National Assembly to ensure its disbursement. Just look, it needs to be disbursed, especially with the AfCFTA coming into effect. During this visit, I also interacted with many stakeholders, including indigenous shipowners. I know how many ships the Nigerians had 10 years ago and how many they have now.

“It’s a real shame that this fund hasn’t been disbursed, I’ve heard the value is $350 million now and I’m not sure any part of it is missing. We will work with the Assembly national government to get the guidelines passed. It’s not really about the federal Department of Finance, but I think it’s more about the political will to disburse it and I think we have the political will to do it” , she said.

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