Shipowners Association of Nigeria has said that the country loses $100m yearly due to Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation’s recent contracting of coastal and bunkering vessels services to a foreign shipping company, Messrs UNIBROS.
This was contained in a three-page petition to the National Assembly, Group Managing Director of NNPC, Mr Mele Kyari, and signed by President of SOAN, Dr Mkgeorge Onyung, a copy of which was obtained by Financial Street.
Onyung alleged that UNIBROS operates under the guise of foreign shell companies with 11 foreign-flagged coastal tanker vessels.
He said NNPC’s action was in total breach of Nigerian local content laws, the Coastal and Inland Shipping Act and The Presidential Executive Order No.5, to the exclusion of Nigerian ship owners and operators, and to the detriment of the Nigerian economy.
The SOAN helmsman, therefore, urged the lawmakers to carry out a thorough investigation into the action of NNPC.
His words, “SOAN hereby registers (its) protest in this show of bad faith and unpatriotic attitude displayed by NNPC, despite that Nigerian ship owners and operators have demonstrated capacity to operate this contract exclusively, and have expressed willingness to accept freight payments in naira. Whereas NNPC is presently paying UNIBROS in US dollars, further draining our extremely scarce foreign exchange resources.
“Take note that this contract award will result in amplification of capital flight, valued in excess of $100m annually, to the detriment of our economy.”
Onyung also claimed that no customs import duty had been paid for any of the 11 vessels in question, again in breach of our nation’s fiscal and monetary policies.
According to the SOAN president, “Nigerian-owned and flagged vessels are made to pay full customs duty and appropriate taxes on earnings which foreign shipping companies have continually evaded illegally,” adding that UNIBROS and other foreign shell companies do not pay any tax to FIRS.
“In the area of capacity building, no seafarer training or local content strategic plan is in place in line with the NOGCID laws,” he lamented.
The association also accused UNIBROS and other foreign shipping lines of failing to comply with one of the major prequalification requirement for consideration in the CoastaI and Bunkering Vessels Service Tender process, being the submission and approval by Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board.
It, therefore, implored the lawmakers to use their “good office to reverse and cancel this contract, which was not subject to public tender in line with our public procurement procedures.”
Assuring that its members were standing by with medium range, long range, and handy-size tanker vessels to meet NNPC’s coastal and import shipping requirements within short notice, subject to bankable contract terms and conditions.
Get real time update about this post categories directly on your device, subscribe now.