The Federal Government is considering a zero import duty in shipping parts coming into the country so as to help local ship owners maintain their vessels.

This piece of good news came years of agitation by indigenous shipping operators for import duty waiver as obtained in aviation sector, after the Ministry of Transportation proposed a zero import duty on new vessels, parts for ship building and repairs.

The Ministry also proposed other tax incentives for maritime industry operators.

Minister of Finance Zainab Ahmed

The 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, Rotimi Amaechi, towards ensuring the growth of maritime in Nigeria.

Dr. Jamoh 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.

“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 overemphasized,” he said.

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 import duty for vessels aged between one and five years, intended for use in foreign or domestic trade; and one per cent 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,” he added.

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.

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.