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NIMASA kick starts process for CVFF disbursement.

Eyewitness reporter


The indigenous ship owners may soon have a cause to smile as the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) may have commenced the process for the disbursement of Cabotage Vessels Financing Funds(CVFF) 15 year after it was established.

It  would be recalled that the CVVF is an off- shoot of Cabotage Law of 2003.
It is the two percent deductions from the Cabotage contracts by indigenous operators lodged into a dedicated accounts under the CVFF.
The Funds, created in 2006, and which accruals have been a subject of wild speculations and controvesy, was said to have hit about $200m as at January ,2020.
However, despite several promises by successive NIMASA administrations to disburse the funds, no indigenous operators has so far benefited from the funds as NIMASA has observed its promise for disbursement in the breach.
However, following the approval by President Mohammadu Buhari, which was allegedly secured by the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Ameachi, NIMASA has  called for Expression of Interest (EoI) from banks to act as Primary Lending Institutions( PLI)  for the disbursement of the fund.
It was gathered that the agency said it received the go ahead from its supervising Minister, Rotimi Amaechi, to disburse the funds to qualified indigenous maritime operators in line with the Treasury Single Account (TSA) policy and the CVFF Guidelines  of 2006.
According to a document marked “Implementation and Disbursement of the Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund (CVFF): Expression of Interest as Primary Lending Institution” and signed by Chudi Offodile, Executive Director, Finance and Administration of NIMASA, the Fund would promote the development of indigenous ship acquisition capacity by providing financial assistance to Nigerian operators in domestic coastal shipping.
In the document, Offodile said the request for the primary lending institution is in line with the Federal Ministry of Transportation guidelines for the implementation of the Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund (CVFF) 2006, which specified the minimum requirement for the participation of banks as Primary Lending institutions (PLIs).

The document  listed the requirements to include that the PLI must have an existing relationship with NIMASA; have shareholders fund over N25 billion, and must have proof of substantial financial support in terms of credits extended to indigenous maritime operators.

Offodile, in the said document,  pointed out  that the PLI will be responsible for liaising with NIMASA in determining the risk acceptance criteria for the utilisation of the Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund or issuing of guarantees.

“PLI will participate in financing and management of specific projects where necessary to further secure repayment of the loan or obligation; be actively involved in on-lending monitoring and entire loan management, and any other financial advisory or ancillary services as the Fund may determine,”Offodile further stated that the bank shall because of the Treasury Single Account policy of the Federal Government, also be prepared to open a dedicated account for each applicant who shall deposit a minimum of 15 percent of the loan request (sum applied for into the account); be committed to contributing between 10 – 35 percent of the loan request and also commit to a cumulative single digit interest rate.

“On approval of the loan request by the Minister of Transportation, NIMASA shall transfer its portion of the loan request into the dedicated account”, he noted.

The eventual disbursement of the fund will bring to an end the wild goose chase by the hapless indigenous operators who have become weary of long wait for the fund meant to empower them to carry out cabotage trade in the country.
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“You lied” – FG lambasts cement manufacturers over hike in product price

Ahmed Dangiwa
The Eyewitness reporter 
The Federal Government has picked holes in the reasons proffered by the cement manufacturers for the sudden jump in the price of the product.
It could be recalled that a few days ago, cement recorded an astronomical increase in price as the 50kg of the essential building materials climbed from  N5000 to between N10,000 to N15,000, depending on the location in the country.
Concerned by the sudden hike, which has elicited uproar among already depressed Nigerians, the Federal government summoned the major cement manufacturers and other merchants of building materials in the country such as Dangote Cement, BUA and Lafarge, to an emergency meeting.
Addressing the manufacturers at the meeting, the Minister of Housing and Urban Development, Ahmed Dangiwa, dismissed the reasons given by the cement manufacturers, describing them as untenable.
Whereas the manufacturers blamed the cost of gas and mining equipment for the hike, Dangiwa said key input materials for cement production such as limestone, clay, silica sand, and gypsum, sourced within the nation’s borders, should not be dollar-rated.
He said the price of gas that manufacturers are using as an excuse was not tenable because gas is a raw material found within the country.

The minister further declared that the excuse of an increase in mining equipment should not come up because equipment bought by the manufacturers has been used for decades and not purchased every day.

He however threatened that the federal government may be forced to throw open the borders and allow importation of cement to flood the Nigerian market in a bid to crash the prices of the community should the manufacturers refuse to reduce their prices.
He warned that the cement manufacturers should not push the government into taking this decision which he believed would push them out of business.
The minister said the border was closed to the importation of cement to help local manufacturers.

However, he noted that if the government decides to open the border for mass importation, prices of cement would crash and local manufacturers would be gravely affected.

The minister, who called on the manufacturers to be more patriotic, said BUA Cement, for instance, has been willing and is still willing as at the last time he spoke with them, to crash the price of their cement, lower than the N7000, N8000 agreed by the manufacturers and he sees no reason why the others should not do same.

“The challenges you speak of, many countries are facing the same challenges and some even worse than that but as patriotic citizens, we have to rally around whenever there is a crisis to change the situation.

“The gas price you spoke of, we know that we produce gas in the country. The only thing you can say is that maybe it is not enough.

“Even if you say about 50 percent of your production cost is spent on gas prices, we still produce gas in Nigeria. It’s just that some of the manufacturers take advantage of the situation.

“As for the mining equipment that you mentioned, you buy equipment and it takes years and you are still using it,” he said.

Earlier, Group Chief Commercial Officer of Dangote Cement, Rabiu Umar blamed the high cost of gas and mining equipment for the hike in cement price.

He said: “It is safe to say we are all Nigerians and we are all facing the current head weight that is happening.  I would like to speak on the popular belief that most of the raw materials to produce cement are available locally.

“While we have limestone and in some cases, we have gypsum and some cases coal, the reality is that it takes a lot of forex-related items to produce cement.

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Marine insurers express frustration, confusion over loosely -worded EU sanctions on Russia.

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Fidelity Bank boosts local rice production with N34bn

Mrs. Nneka Onyeali-Ikpe, Managing Director/CEO, Fidelity Bank Plc,

Fidelity Bank has facilitated the disbursement of over N34 Billion in direct credit to players in the Nigerian rice value chain.

The bank’s interventions in recent years have helped to unlock spontaneous financing opportunities for a large swathe of paddy rice farmers with significant contributions to the expansion of national paddy rice output.

Only recently, the bank part-financed the construction of a 400 metric tons per day mega rice mill in Kano state owned by the Gerawa Group of Companies.

Commenting on the development, Mrs. Nneka Onyeali-Ikpe, Managing Director/CEO, Fidelity Bank Plc, said, “Through our interventions in the rice space, we have created a positive impact in rural communities by way of farmer empowerment and employment generation. This is also in alignment with the business sustainability imperative of our banking business.”

Shedding light on the bank’s activities further down the value chain, Mrs. Onyeali-Ikpe stated that the bank directly financed the construction and installation of several integrated rice mills across different geo-political zones in Nigeria. These rice mills have a combined rice milling capacity in excess of 500,000 MT per annum.

Recognizing the importance of the last mile traders in the value chain, she noted, “We have also provided low-cost funds to rice traders to purchase rice from indigenous rice millers for sale to the final consumers. This has helped in stabilizing the prices of locally produced rice.”

Whilst stressing the importance of imbibing sustainability practices, Mrs. Onyeali-Ikpe points out that the bank has modeled effective social and environmental sustainability frameworks into its agribusiness deal structuring workflow to address social and environmental sustainability requirements.

This, she said, follows the CBN’s Sustainable Banking Principles and Sector Guideline, IFC Performance Standards and Equator Principles.

The bank’s activities have continued to receive recognition by operators, funding partners and all other actors in the agribusiness space.

At the Bankers’ Committee meeting of December 2019, for instance, Fidelity Bank was awarded 2nd position in Sustainable Agriculture Transaction of the year.

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