Kasim Sumaina in Abuja
The Executive Secretary of Nigerian Shippers Council (NSC), Mr Hassan Bello, has said the country lost $25 billion to foreign ship owners between 2015 and 2017.
Bello, disclosed this when the Nigerian Fleet Implementation Committee paid a courtesy visit to the Minister of Budget and Planning, Senator Udoma Udo Udoma, recently in Abuja
Bello, said over $9.08 billion was paid as freight for dry and wet cargos to foreign ship owners in 2015 due to the absence of Nigerian-owned fleet plying the international route.
According to him, “The trend had been recurring over the years,” adding that in 2016, “over $7.55 billion dollars was estimated as opportunity loss.”
He noted that, $8.60 billion was freight opportunity loss from import and export of dry and wet cargos in 2017.
“As a result of this the Federal Ministry of Transportation through the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, set up a committee for the Nigerian fleet implementation.”
He disclosed that the committee was to examine the possibility of using existing shipping companies to run a Nigerian fleet and provide guidelines on procedures of establishing a shipping company.
Stressing that for government to realise its programme, a conducive environment backed by strong political will with incentives to operators, had to be in place.
He, however, said the ministry of budget and planning played an important role in fiscal policy direction of government.
On his part, Udoma stated that his ministry would work with relevant agencies to resolve the issues and support the committee fully.
According to him, “We will work with the Ministry of Industry, Investment and Trade as well as the Ministry of Finance to try and ensure that we address those issues; it is important that your work succeed.
“It is very important because firstly there is need for this country to generate more revenue; there is the need to see if we can expand the Nigeria fleet, the work and the cargoes that they carry.”
He said: “We will be saving ourselves foreign exchange and we would be able to generate funds in foreign exchange as well. So it is very important to create an expansion for Nigerian fleet.
“We would also be creating jobs for Nigerians. When we expand the fleet we would also be expanding our transport infrastructure; you can be sure of our strong active support from this ministry,” he stressed.