Increased indigenous participation in the maritime business will boost Nigeria’s diversification drive, which is a major thrust of Nigeria’s Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP).
This was made known on Thursday by the Minister of Budget and National Planning, Senator Udoma Udo Udoma.
The minister who spoke while receiving the Nigerian Fleet Implementation Committee in Abuja disclosed government’s determination to promote and increase indigenous participation in the shipping business in Nigeria.
He said the federal government would provide the necessary support to enable the committee carry out its mandate.
The minister assured that apart from the fiscal incentives requested from government, his ministry was planning to provide any other necessary support to enable the committee succeed in its efforts to reposition the indigenous maritime sector and make it globally competitive.
The Fleet Implementation Committee was set up by the Federal Government primarily to encourage and promote private sector participation in the maritime business and by so doing help in the diversification of the economy.
Senator Udoma acknowledged the importance of the maritime sector to the growth of business and the economy, and noted that apart from generating revenues for government, it also had the potential of creating wealth, providing jobs, generating foreign exchange, as well as developing the country’s transportation infrastructure.
While commending the committee members for the work they were doing, the minister assured that government was committed to growing the size of the indigenous fleet with appropriate incentives.
The chairman of the committee, Alhaji Bello, told the minister that maritime transportation was a critical sector in the economy of several countries.
He, however, regretted that with its vast coastline and abundant natural resources, Nigeria’s huge maritime potentials were yet to be fully explored for the benefit of the people.
He explained that given the volume of cargoes that entered and leave Nigerian ports annually, the opportunity loss to Nigeria was huge because of Nigeria’s insignificant participation in the carriage of cargo to and from the ports.
“This gives rise to huge outflow of financial resources in terms of freight paid by Nigerians to foreign ship operators and increasing the GDP and economic well-being of their home countries,” he pointed out.
The committee consequently solicited government’s support to ensure that fleet development with requisite incentives becomes the focus of implementation priority in the government transport infrastructure programme.