Home Economy Nigeria loses N2tn to capital flight in maritime sector – Okonjo-Iweala

Nigeria loses N2tn to capital flight in maritime sector – Okonjo-Iweala

by Business News Report

Minister of Finance and coordinator of the Economy, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, says Nigeria loses more than N2 trillion annually to capital flight following inability of indigenous ship owners to fully participate in crude oil exports. The minister disclosed this at a one-day presidential retreat on maritime safety held at the Presidential Villa. The retreat with the theme: “Harnessing the Potential of Nigeria’s Maritime Sector for Sustainable Economic Development’’ was organised to generate concrete and implementable initiatives to improve the sector.

In her remarks the minister decried the lack of proper implementation of the cabotage laws to allow indigenous participation in shipping. “On the issue of increasing local participation in the sector and cabotage, the indigenous Ship Owners Association of Nigeria has said that we now lose over N2 trillion annually in capital flight to foreign countries which own vessels used to lift about 150 million tons of cargoes including oil products from this country as no Nigerian flagship is currently plying international routes.

“Nigerian-owned vessels make up less than 1 per cent of the global fleet and are quite old; on average, 30 years of age. Increasing Nigeria’s participation in this sector will not only ensure that most of these incomes are retained locally, but will lead to increased jobs for Nigerians. As you will see from the Mackenzie presentation later, Philippines for example has been able to position itself as a global supplier of seafarers, creating a lot of jobs and significant foreign income for the country. Why can’t we replicate this in Nigeria?’’.

Okonjo-Iweala also said that security threats in the Gulf of Guinea of which Nigeria is a major stakeholder had steadily risen from 45 per cent in 2010 to 64 per cent in 2012 threatening Nigeria’s more than 600 million dollars potential in fishing business. The minister said the development had created major economic problems for the country and should be urgently addressed. On the issue of port reforms, she said a lot had been done in improving the operation of the ports over the last few months with 10 per cent of the imported goods now taking less than seven days to clear. She said though there had been significant improvement from what obtained years back, the target of achieving 48 hours clearance with complete documentation was yet to be attained.

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