Nigerians have strongly kicked against the increase in tariff of imported vehicles by the Federal Government.
SHIPS & PORTS DAILY had reported last month that the Minister of Finance, Mrs. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, conveyed the tariff increase from 20 per cent to 70 per cent on cars and from 10 per cent to 35 per cent on buses, in a memo sent to the Nigeria Customs Service, Central Bank of Nigeria and the Federal Inland Revenue Service. The new policy, according to the Minister, is aimed at encouraging local manufacture of vehicles and revival of the auto industry in Nigeria
But during a survey conducted by SHIPS & PORTS DAILY last week, 45 of the 52 respondents representing 86.5 per cent of those sampled kicked against the tariff increase which is a part of the new National Automotive Policy (NAP) while only five, representing 9.6 per cent. The remaining two respondents representing 3.9 per cent were undecided.
Many of the respondents during the survey described it as insensitive, arguing that it will have adverse effect on low income earning Nigerians. The respondents maintained that the increase in duty is an indirect way of placing a ban on used cars which are the ones average Nigerian can afford to buy.
“It is all deception; same kind of deception that the government has been giving the people! Government should put in place policies that will not make the Nigerian people suffer. How can they say they want to ban the only means of transportation affordable by the people?” one of the respondents, Ken Iyoha, asked.
He said “banning tokunbo cars is like making cars the exclusive preserve of only the rich.”
“How many salary earners can afford a brand new car? Any person raising this idea is someone totally against Nigerian masses who doesn’t want the poor ones to survive,” another freight forwarding agent said.
Former Chairman of the Association of Nigeria Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) Tin Can Chapter, Kayode Farinto, said that the new auto policy “depicts the incompetence of the country’s policy formulators.”
“I don’t know who the economic think-tanks of this country are! They have failed Nigerians because what they are trying to do is to make some very few Nigerians to be richer at the expense of 160 million Nigerians,” he said.
Farinto predicted that the new auto policy will result in dire consequence for the economy as the 110 percent tariff increase in imported rice did with a loss in revenue for the country.
He said: “The policy formulators have gotten it wrong again and this is the second time they are getting it wrong. The first time was when government proposed to place ban on the importation of rice knowing fully well that the local supply cannot meet the local demand. So whoever must have formulated this policy of local assemblers producing vehicles for Nigerians is just not getting it right.”
The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has also expressed its opposition to the policy and the hike in tariff.
The prices of imported vehicles are expected to rise astronomically as a result of the increased import duty while some vehicle importers have expressed fears that the new policy could promote smuggling activities.
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