From: Kemi Yesufu and Ndubuisi Orji, Abuja

The House of Representatives has passed for second reading a Bill for an Act to establish the Nigerian Marine Development Bank.

The Bill, seeking to empower the bank to carry out the business of marine credit insurance and for other related funding interventions, is being sponsored Hon. Mohammed Gololo.

Gololo in his lead debate argued that it had become necessary to create a financial institution saddled with the responsibility of improving access to long term loans and insurance for investors.

Speaking in support of the Bill, Ossai Nicholas Ossai, opined that a fully functional Maritime Bank would lead to consistent investment in the sector, which would be of enormous benefit to the Niger-Delta region where a large number of maritime companies will operate from.

According to Ossai, a well-funded maritime sector would lead to many job opportunities in the Niger-Delta and subsequently reduces youth restiveness in the region.

Also asking for the Bill to be passed for second reading, Betty Apiafi  who noted that a vibrant maritime sector was critical to the Federal Government succeeding in its push for economic diversification, said with the government struggling with  huge budget deficits annually and commercial banks only offering short-term loans, the establishment of the Maritime Bank would go a long way to sustain businesses in the sector.

Apiafi noted that other development financial institutions, including the recently-created Development Bank of Nigeria, are more involved with assisting Small and Medium Scale Enterprises, hence the need to come up with institutions that can provide funding for large scale investments.

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“If we are truly want to diversify the economy, we need to look at long term funding for sectors which have the potentials of diversifying the economy”, she stressed.

Throwing his weight behind the bill, House Minority Leader, Leo Ogor said the bank would provide Nigerian investors with the much needed funding to make them major players.

According to him, the Bill to establish a bank to finance the maritime sector is the kind of legislation that secures the future of the country, especially now that there a consensus on reducing government’s heavy reliance on oil revenue.

Disagreeing with calls for the Bill to scale through, Femi Fakeye said commercial banks and some other financial institutions provide tailor made packages for different sectors, maritime inclusive.

“We need to ask ourselves if we need to establish a bank for every sector”, Fakeye said.

When Speaker Yakubu Dogara put up the bill for a voice vote, it was unanimously adopted by members.

The Bill was then referred to the Committee on Banking and Currency as  well as the Committee on Maritime Safety, Education and Administration for further legislative action.