The House of Representatives has ordered the suspension of the planned disbursement of a $700 million cabotage vessel financing fund to Nigerians and companies by the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA).
This followed the adoption of a motion of urgent public importance by Henry Nwawuba (PDP-Imo) during a plenary in Abuja.
In his motion, Mr Nwawuba noted that the Coastal and Inland Shipping (Cabotage) Act, 2003, established the cabotage vessel finance fund to promote the development of indigenous ship acquisition capacity by providing financial assistance to Nigerian operators in domestic coastal shipping.
Mr Nwawuba added that he was concerned that since the fund’s establishment, there had been no reliable data on the total amount accrued to it.
The legislator explained that there was no certainty as to the actual worth of the fund, adding that since the establishment of the Cabotage Vessel Finance Fund in 2003, there was no record of any Nigerian citizen or company who had benefited from the fund.
The legislators, however, directed the Committee on Local Content to engage an external auditor to audit all contracts entered into in the cabotage regime and report within seven days. They urged the agency to present an audited statement of account showing all monies accrued to the Cabotage Vessel Finance Fund within seven days.
The committee is also to commence immediate investigations into the Cabotage Vessel Finance Fund to determine all monies accrued to the fund since its establishment in 2003 and report to the house within 14 days.
The lawmakers asked the minister of state for transport and NIMASA director-general to report to the house committee on local content on the state of the Cabotage Vessel Finance Fund and how the funds have been applied over the past 20 years.
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