Mr Greg Ogbeifun, President, Ship owners Association of Nigeria (SOAN) said on Friday that Nigeria losses 500 million dollars annually to foreign shipping operators in the country.
He told our reporter in an interview in Abuja that Nigeria tax policies and levies were affecting the maritime business.
According to him, many local ship owners have abandoned the business because of the harsh environment which was only conducive for foreign investors.
Ogbeifun, who is also a member of the National Fleet Implementation Committee, said government must provide tax incentives and affordable funding for the sector to re-establish the national fleet.
“Not long ago, we used to have the Nigeria shipping line which is now demised.
“The effort of this government is getting it re-established, which is now delayed but there are some fundamental challenges making it difficult for the actualisation of re-establishing the national fleet.”
He noted that most nations around the world that are successful in maritime sector, recognised the need to provide certain incentives for that sector of the economy to thrive.
“This country is losing approximately 500 million dollars annually to foreign shipping players and these are things we can easily do here, if the business environment is conducive,” he said.
He said that a Nigerian who wants to import ship into the country is charged 14 per cent as importation duties while most maritime nations have zero duties.
“What the government should do is to provide tax incentives, provide affordable funding for the sector. Shipping is a very capital intensive business, and most nations have developmental funds.
“But in this country, most of us have to go to the commercial banks to borrow money to run the business, which does not work with the type of interest regime we have.“
He, however, stated that there was so much revenue in the maritime sector if the government comes up with favourable policies for Nigerians in the sector.