The Federal Government has said it expects the maritime sector to contribute at least one quarter, or 25 per cent of the total funding of the national budget next year.
The Minister of Transport, Rotimi Amaechi who spoke yesterday in Lagos, said the government has set N500billion revenue target for agencies in the maritime sector to be able to achieve this target.
The minister said he would seek the permission of the President to send away any chief executive officer that failed to meet his agency’s mark.
Amaechi made this known in his keynote address at the Maritime Summit 2016 jointly organised by the Nigerian Shippers Council and Tell Communications Limited at the Federal Palace Hotel, Victoria Island in Lagos .
Speaking during an interactive meeting organised by the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), he said almost 10 years after the NPA surrendered its cargo handling functions to private terminal operators, ”the ports are not looking good.”
He said the Federal Government will always respect the provisions of the concession agreement it entered into with the concessioniares, stating that it would carry out competence and performance audit on each of the terminals to see where they have erred in law and apply sanctions where applicable.
Amaechi said the government of President Muhammadu Buhari has also concluded arrangement to conduct performance audit of all the agencies in the maritime sector to determine how much funds they are generating and contributing to the budget.
An audit firm, Amaechi said, has been contracted to carry out the exercise.
The Federal Government, he said, is determined to move the maritime sector forward and make the nation’s sea ports the hub in the sub-region.
The maritime sector, Amaechi said, generates a lot of money every year, without a corresponding contribution to the budget, stressing that it required improvement on the nation’s sea ports.
Other critical stakeholders who spoke at the forum said some of the terminal operators have not added the expected value to their services and terminals since the ports were handed over to them.
Deliberate violation of the concession agreement by the terminal operators, huge demurrage charges, extortion by security agencies, lack of synergy between various government agencies at the ports and other sundry challenges were identified as factors that are not making the uncompetitive and unattractive for business.
The uncompetitiveness of the ports, the stakeholders said, has made it difficult for the ports to attain world-class status.
The ports, according to them, are still burdened with bureaucratic glitches, periodic technical blackouts and duplication of processes by a plethora of government agencies at the port
The minister assured the stakeholders that the problems would be addressed by the government through the review of the concession agreement.
A committee, he said, has been set up to reassess the gains of ports reform and make recommendations for refocusing and fast-tracking it in line with the Change Agenda of President Buhari’s administration.