Shipowners Association of Nigeria (SOAN) has said that $100 million is lost to capital flight as the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) recently contracted coastal and bunkering vessel services to a foreign shipping company, Messrs UNIBROS.
In a petition to the National Assembly and the Group Managing Director of NNPC, Mele Kyari, the group said UNIBROS operates under the guise of various foreign shell companies with 11 foreign-flagged coastal tanker vessels. The petition was signed by the President of SOAN, Dr. Mkgeorge Onyung.
The shipowners urged the lawmakers to carry out a thorough investigation into the contract. According to them, the action is in total breach of the Nigerian content laws, the Coastal and Inland Shipping Act (Cabotage Act) and the Presidential Executive Order No.5 and executed in exclusion of Nigerian Shipowners and operators.
The petition read in part: “Take note that this contract award will result in amplification of capital flight, valued over $100 million annually to the detriment of our economy in addition to the fact that no customs import duty has been paid for any of the 11 vessels in question.
“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. UNIBROS and/or any other foreign shell company 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. Neither UNIBROS nor any foreign shipowner or shipping company is made to comply with one of the major prequalification requirements for consideration in the coastal and bunkering vessels service tender process, being the submission and approval by NCDMB.”