The Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency has issued a 72-hour ultimatum to the Primary Lending Institutions to release modalities for the disbursement of $350 million Cabotage Vessels Finance Fund.
The PLIs approved for the disbursement of the fund are: Zenith, Polaris, United Bank of Africa, Jaiz and Union bank.
The Director General of NIMASA, Bashir Jamoh, told newsmen after meeting with the banks that the modalities to be released would include interest rate, tenure, collateral and requirements needed to access the fund.
He pointed out that the interest rate must be of international best practice because the money to be given was in foreign currencies.
Jamoh added that the disbursement of CVFF would not start without stakeholders’ engagement.
“We can’t start disbursement without stakeholders’ engagement; therefore, stakeholders’ engagement starts today. We are on track, we have started with the PLIs and all the five of them are here today.
“We have listened to them and they listened to us and from all indications they are ready for us as well.
“What we want them to do now is to come up with a collective decision and this cannot take more than 72 hours. They have to decide on date because we don’t want them to come individually with their own interest rates.
“We want them to have a consensus and a standard template on the disbursement of funds as well as the interest rate,” he said.
The NIMASA boss pointed out that once the PLIs had finished on the guidelines, the ship owners would be invited.
On the interest rate and collaterals needed by ship owners to access the loans, the NIMASA boss said the guidelines would be adhered to.
“The guidelines will tell us the interest rate, the tenure and what will be the collateral, because we can’t allow them to make the ship owners feel insecure.
“I told the PLIs that on the issue of collateral, they have NIMASA money with them so all these things will be deliberated upon among themselves.
“On the interest rate, we are giving them international currency not Nigerian currency, so they cannot start looking at Nigeria lending rate, they should look at the uniform international best practices, and the guidelines stipulate everything,” he said.
The Managing Director of Jaiz bank, Sirajo Salisu, thanked NIMASA for the confidence imposed on the bank, adding that they would do everything possible to ensure that the funds were disbursed to beneficiaries.
“It’s really an opportunity because out of the banks operating in Nigeria you counted very few of us worthy and it’s something we really appreciate. We will try our very best to put something on the table.
“So, having the commitment, we will try our best to partner with the beneficiaries or the proposed beneficiaries of these funds.
“I want to believe they are much aware that this is not a grant, this is not money that they will just take away, this is money that is meant for a purpose and we will ensure the purpose is achieved to the benefit of the country,” he said.
Also speaking, the Director and head of Enterprises, Polaris bank, Femi Aribaloye, said whatever that would be needed by the banks to ensure the disbursement would be carried out.
He, however, raised concerns regarding the risks involved on the part of the banks.
“Whatever it is that we need to do in terms of structure and interest rate will be carried out, but the most important thing here is to ensure that this succeeds.
“We are also very much aware of the environment we operate in, we know things can be a little bit turbulent; policies, economic situation, things might change. So, we need to ensure things are done well,” he said. (NAN)