Car dealers appeal for new import tariff suspension

The Chairman of Abuja Car Dealers Association, Auwal Rilwan, has appealed to the Federal Government to suspend the new vehicle import tariff till local vehicle manufacturers begin full operations.

Rilwan made the appeal in an interview with newsmen on Thursday in Abuja.

He said that implementing the policy now would lead to shortage of affordable cars for low income earners and loss of job to many people.

According to him, government should first put the necessary infrastructure in place for local manufacturers to produce enough cars to meet demand before discouraging importation.

The new tariff, which the Nigeria Customs Service began to implement on May 1, involves 35 per cent import duty and another 35 per cent port levy.

It is a key component of the Nigeria Automotive Industry Development Plan which is aimed at limiting importation of used vehicles to encourage local manufacturing of new and affordable ones.

Before the new tariff policy, imported vehicles attracted 20 per cent duty and two per cent levy.

Rilwan said that the new tariff had doubled the clearing cost of imported cars and was impacting negatively on the country’s automobile market.

“I have some cars waiting to be cleared at the Lagos ports but Customs is telling me to pay 35 per cent duty and another 35 per cent levy on them.

“Before now it cost about N250, 000 to clear one car but with this policy, we will be paying at least N400, 000.

“If you add the cost of ancillary services like transportation, loading and off-loading, among others, very soon Nigerians will stop buying ‘tokumbo’ cars due to their high price.

“Government should wait for the investors that are coming to start producing affordable vehicles to meet local demands before limiting importation,’’ he said.