The federal government has assured the international oil and gas community that the Nigerian maritime sector is safe for investment, disclosing that special tax regime was under consideration to grow capacity for the industry.
Addressing journalists at a technical workshop on deep sea exploration on the sidelines of the ongoing Offshore Technology Conference (OTC) in Houston Texas, the Permanent Secretary Federal Ministry of Transportation Alhaji Sabiu Zakari, noted that Nigeria was aware of the drift towards deep sea exploration, saying policies to enhance effective maritime transport were being considered by the federal government.
Zakari, said the report by the International Maritime Bureau (IMB) that piracy has declined in Nigerian waters in the first quarter of 2019, was an attestation that efforts of the President Muhammadu Buhari led administration in safety and security in the maritime sector has started yielding fruits.
“Nigerian waters are safe- NIMASA deep blue project in collaboration with the Nigerian Navy, and all other security agencies in Nigeria is already in motion and will use the latest technology to track all vessels in Nigerian waters and reduce criminality to the barest minimum. Foreigners with genuine business interest are welcome to invest in Nigeria. So many have come and are enjoying benefits of their investment,” he said.
Also speaking at the event, the Director General of the Nigerian maritime Administration and safety agency (NIMASA), Dr. Dakuku Peterside said the agency had commenced regulatory reforms to ensure a business friendly maritime environment to spur economic growth hinged on both foreign and indigenous investors.
He assured the international community that NIMASA was committed to growing in-country capacity so that collaboration between Nigerian and foreigners can take place without fear of compromising standards.
He said: “We are building up capacity, and creating the right regulatory framework for the Nigerian maritime sector. We believe that our three dimensional approach of creating the right regulatory environment, providing easy asses to capital, build capacity, and facilitate access to business opportunities will hasten the indigenous capacity development.
“Regulation ought not to stifle businesses; regulation ought to support business, spur economic growth without endangering the environment and the people.”
Speaking further on Cabotage implementation in Nigeria, Peterside said the agency was in discussion with the Federal Ministry of Finance and the Nigerian Customs Service (NCS) on the need to create a special tariff regime for those importing vessels and vessel parts into the country.
“At the moment, a temporary import permit mainly granted foreigners attract just oner per cent but importing vessel by Nigerian attract 13 per cent, so it is difficult to compete.
“We are engaging the NSC on the need to review this regime. We have also made appreciable progress in our discussions with the Central bank of Nigeria to see Nigerians in the maritime sector have access to single digit facilities so they can compete favourably with their international peers,” he said.