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Gbajabiamila warns against over-regulation of maritime sector 

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… as Amaechi frowns at 12% maritime university revenue

Abiola Seun

The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Femi Gbajabiajila, yesterday, warned against over regulation of the nation’s maritime sector.

Gbajabiamila, disclosed this while declaring open, public hearing, on the amendment of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) Act,2007; amendment of the Inland and Coastal Shipping Act and the repeal of Merchant Shipping Act, 2017,  by the House Committee on Maritime Safety, Education and Administration headed by Hon. Linda Ikpeazu.

The Speaker ,who said the amendment of the NIMASA Act will further enhanced harnessing the potentials in the sector, said shipping and maritime represent an untapped resources that must be adequately maximised.

He said, “why we caution not to over-regulate, we must also not under-regulate the industry.

“People rely on the maritime sector for jobs and with the numerous potentials inherent, there must be regulations to maximise it.

Speaking earlier, the chairman, House Committee on Maritime Safety, Education and Administration, Hon. Linda Ikpeazu, said the committee want to position the maritime industry, as a key alternative source of revenue for the nation’s economic growth.

She said, “It is common knowledge that the maritime sector is a foundation and catalyst to growth of nations that possess marine endowments.

” Nigerian, by any standard, is well endowed by ocean coastline, rivers, and a rich marine bio-diversity.

“The fact that our marine pedigree has not translated into a vibrant maritime industry, has remained a paradox to all.

As parliamentarians, and charged with legislating, over sighting as well as representing the sector, we are poised to reverse this trend.
“Not only are we focused on making the maritime sector a key alternative source of revenue and economic growth to our dwindling oil resources, we are also poised to develop a prosperous blue economy for our nation, akin to similar success in the maritime nations around the world.

“It is in this light that this public hearing is very important as it is an avenue to tap into views and obtain inputs of operators,” she stated,

However, the Federal Ministry of Transportation, has disapproved the proposed amendment of the NIMASA Act, 2007, to provides not less than 12 percent of the agency’s revenue be given to the Nigerian Maritime University, (NMU), Okerenkoko, Delta state.

The Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, said the ministry kicked against the 12 percent NIMASA revenue, because the institution, like every other Universities, have access to fund appropriated by the National Assembly on an annual basis.

The Minister, who was represented by Director, Legal Service of the ministry, Paul Oteh, said, “The ministry does not support this amendment as the proposal. It is not only excessive, but, equally not cognizant of the diverse other responsibilities of NIMASA, which require the deployment of its revenues in an increasingly challenging fiscal environment.

“The proposal, in our view, also does not recognise the fact that the university, like other public institutions under the supervision of the NUC and the Federal Ministry of Education, is ordinarily entitled to public funds as may be appropriated by the National Assembly on an annual basis.”

The Minister, however, stated that the bill will ensure that NIMASA becomes a more efficient and responsive regulatory agency able to better discharge its responsibilities within the domestic regulatory space.

He also disclosed that the ministry supports the retention of the roles and powers of the minister to grant waivers and other responsibilities.

He said, “The Ministry notes and supports the retention of the roles and powers of the Minister under Sections 9, 10, 11 and 14 among others in relation to the granting of waivers, among other responsibilities.

While it is desirable to ease the regulatory process through the apparent delegation of some ministerial functions to the Agency, it is posited that the present provisions in the Act, suffice to provide a healthy balance between administrative discretion and political support.

“I am to also state that the intendment of the CVFF was to make it an independent fund free as much as possible, from the rigours of government bureaucracy in order to make it easily accessible to eligible contributors to the Fund.

“The Ministry will therefore support the retention of the present Section 44 of the act to enable  the funds to  be deposited in commercial  banks, rather than the Central  and as proposed in the present bill and administered under guidelines that shall be proposed by the minister and approved by the National Assembly.”

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