Agitation by indigenous shipping operators for import duty waiver seems to have yielded results as the Federal Ministry of Transportation has proposed zero import duty on new vessels, parts for ship building and repairs.
The ministry also proposed other tax incentives for maritime industry operators.
Director-General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Dr. Bashir Jamoh, who conveyed the Ministry’s position to the Honourable Minister of Finance, Hajiya Zainab Ahmed, in Abuja, reiterated the commitment of the Honorable Minister of Transportation, Rt. Honourable Rotimi Chibuike Amaechi towards ensuring the growth of maritime in Nigeria.
He said many governments around the globe had introduced massive tax reduction or elimination to spur activities in key sectors and rev up their economies during the coronavirus pandemic.
Dr. Jamoh stated, “The maritime sector is critical in the growth and development of transportation and, by extension, international trade in the country. Thus, the need for Federal Government-oriented programmes and stimulus packages to deliver a response that catalyses a sustainable economic development cannot be overemphasised.”
The DG said the proposed incentives included zero import duty for brand new vessels imported by Nigerians or Nigerian shipping companies for use in foreign or domestic trade; 0.5 per cent only import duty for vessels aged between one and five years intended for use in foreign or domestic trade; and one per cent only import duty for vessels aged between five and eight years intended for use in foreign or domestic trade.
There was also a proposal for zero import duty for parts or components imported by Nigerian shipyards for local ship building, which will be for an initial period of four years after which it can be reviewed by government. All these are expected to give the sector the vibrancy it needs for growth.
The NIMASA DG said the incentives were being proposed because of the importance of the Nigerian maritime sector to the entire sub-Saharan African region. He emphasised that Nigeria accounted for more than 65 per cent of the entire shipping trade of the sub-African continent. Nigeria is also the largest producer and exporter of oil and gas in the continent and Africa’s largest economy, he said.
It is worthy of note that the maritime sector is a crucial energizer of economic growth and development, as it facilitates trade between countries. The Nigerian economy has witnessed substantial growth in the last two decades owing to reforms that boosted private investment in the maritime industry.
The world relies on a safe, secure and efficient international shipping industry, which is an essential component of any programme for future sustainable green economic growth in a sustainable manner.
The promotion of sustainable shipping and sustainable maritime development is one of the major priorities of IMO in the coming years.
Therefore, energy efficiency, new technology and innovation, maritime education and training, maritime security, maritime traffic management and the development of the maritime infrastructure: the development and implementation of global standards covering these and other issues will underpin IMO’s commitment to provide the institutional framework necessary for a green and sustainable global maritime transportation system.
The theme for this year is “Sustainable shipping for a sustainable planet,” which provides an excellent opportunity to raise awareness of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals, SDDs and to showcase the work that the International Maritime Organization (IMO) and its Member States are undertaking to achieve the targets.
The theme will provide opportunities for leaders from various sectors, including shipping, to both reflect on the work done and the urgent steps they further plan towards a sustainable future.
The shipping industry, with the support of the IMO regulatory framework, has already started the transition towards this sustainable future.
IMO has adopted and will continue to develop measures to cut greenhouse gas emissions, reduce the sulphur content of ships’ fuel oil, implement the Ballast Water Management Convention, protect the polar regions, reduce marine litter, improve the efficiency of shipping through the electronic exchange of information, meet the challenges of the digitalization of shipping and enhance the participation of women in the maritime community.
The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the professionalism and sacrifice of the two million seafarers who serve on the world’s merchant fleet.
Shipping has continued to transport more than 80 per cent of world trade, including vital medical supplies, food, and other basic goods that are critical for the COVID-19 response and recovery – but hundreds of thousands of seafarers face a humanitarian crisis as they have been stranded at sea, unable to get off the ships they operate with contracts extended by many months.
This needs to be addressed urgently, through Governments designating seafarers as essential workers and ensuring safe crew changes can take place.