BPE boss calls for increased PPP in maritime sector

 The Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) has  urged the Federal Government to encourage more private sector operators to finance critical sectors of the  maritime industry to boost its revenue.

Mr Alex Okoh, Director General, BPE made this assertion during a webinar on “Public Private Partnership as alternative financing model in the maritime sector” on Friday.

The webinar was hosted by the Nigeria-South Africa Chamber of Commerce and sponsored by SIFAX Group.

He cited the success of the port concession, saying the revenue of the federal government from the sector had more than doubled ten years after the concession.

Okoh said competing needs for the lean resources of the Federal Government had also made PPP a welcome option.

According to him, the Federal Government has simplified the PPP process, which now allows private sector players to scout for projects to be financed through PPP model.

“The Bureau of Public Enterprises has been entrusted with a significant part of the PPP responsibilities in Nigeria through the Federal Government’s circular of September 2020.

“What this means in effect is that players in the country’s maritime and other key sectors of the economy can identify and suggest projects to the government through the BPE or relevant MDAs.

“Once these projects are examined, approval will be given to the relevant parties to undertake an appraisal, feasibility study or outline of business case, which will be scrutinised by the government. Thereafter, a tender will be published.

“The benefit of this is that the originator of the project will be allowed to provide a matching offer with that of the highest bidder and if the party is able to match this offer, they will be declared the preferred bidder,” he said.

He urged the private sector to identify the gaps in transport infrastructure in the nation’s maritime sector and work towards providing solutions.

Okoh said such investments in and around Nigeria’s ports would help reduce the high shipping and terminal charges and local transport to warehouse costs.

He added that this would in turn make the country’s ports more competitive and business friendly in comparison to other African countries.

In his remarks, Mr Bode Ojeniyi, Group Executive Director, Corporate Services, SIFAX Group, said the subject matter was timely and germane given the huge infrastructural deficit in the sector that could be addressed through PPP.

He urged the government do put in more efforts to make the country more business friendly by removing the crippling bureaucratic bottlenecks currently making investments in any sector very unattractive.