Major maritime industry stakeholders yesterday asked the Federal Government not to be in haste in implementing the National Automotive Policy it introduced in 2013.
The stakeholders, who bared their minds yesterday at the ‘Town Hall Meeting on the National Automotive Policy’ organized by Ships & Ports Communication in Apapa, Lagos, advised government to ensure that auto assembly plants start rolling out locally assembled vehicles before the contentious policy is implemented.
The stakeholders also accused some auto assembly plants of hiding under the policy to import fully-built units of vehicles under the guise of semi-knocked down (SKD) units with the intention of shortchanging government of import duty.
The Comptroller General of Customs, Alhaji DIkko Abdulahi, who was represented at the event by the Assistant Comptroller General, Tariff & Trade, ACG Banke Adeyemo said Customs officers have in the past recorded instances where importers removed the tyres from fully built imported vehicles and claim they are SKDs with the intention of paying less duty to government.
“Of course we won’t allow that so we raise the proper duty and ask them to pay,” she said.
In his presentation, Director General of the National Automotive Council (NAC), Engr. Aminu Jalal said Nigeria spent about $7.5billon on importation of imported new, used and spare parts into the country in 2013 alone.
Jalal said Nigeria had a growing middle class of 40 million people with a potential vehicle market of one million units annually.
The NAC DG, who was represented by the agency’s Director of Industrial Infrastructure, Engr. Kolapo Odetoro however said the country must check its huge spending on foreign exchange used to import vehicles into the country.
“The local manufacturers of vehicles will therefore not only create wealth but generate a large number of Small and Medium Enterprises.
“It would create employment, boost our local engineering capacity through spillover effects and develop our local raw materials.
“NAC is already working with the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) and the Nigeria Customs Service on this issue. Measures to control vehicles smuggling through the control of vehicle registration system are being worked out,” he said.
Also speaking at the event, Chairman, Nigerian Ports Consultative Council (PCC), Otunba Kunle Folarin said, “We should ask ourselves whether the investors can sustain competiveness, slow growth economy or change in the mobility of people.”
“When there is an alternative transport mode, will it affect the demand of the policy?”
The Deputy President, National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF) Barr Fred Akokhia said that the auto policy is a catalyst for industrialization in the country.
He however advised the government not to rush into implementing the policy.
“Government should not rush into implementing the policy rather they should check for what led to the mistakes of the past in order not to repeat it. We should do it in a way that when we come out of it, it would be a near perfect policy,” Akokhia said.
On his part, the National Publicity secretary of Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA), Kayode Farinto described the auto policy as “dead on arrival”.
He queried why NAC has failed to use the money generated under the two percent NAC levy to develop the automobile industry.
“NAC should empower various higher institutions so that they could do research and develop new technologies.
“We must ensure that there is stable electricity because without stable electricity, we can’t get the policy right,” he said.
The Town Hall Meeting, organised by Ships & Ports Communication Company, was attended by representatives of the Nigerian Ports Authority, Nigerian Shippers Council, Nigeria Customs Service, Nigerian Ports Consultative Council, freight forwarding associations, importers, and auto dealers.
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