Customs agents in the country have advocated for a total review of the Auto policy to address the shortfall inherent in the implementation of the policy that affects the economy.
The National President, Council of Managing Directors of Licensed Customs Agents (NCMDLCA), the umbrella body of customs agents in the country, Mr. Lucky Amiwero stated this in a petition addressed to the Minister of Finance, Mrs Zainab Ahmed.
The automotive policy was introduced in 2013 by the administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan but was strengthened and re-launched by the government of President Muhammadu Buhari early in 2018.
In many countries around the world, the automotive industry plays both a strategic and catalytic role in economic development and the objective of the national automotive policy is to restore assembly and develop local content, thus, creating employment, acquiring technology and reducing pressure on the country’s balance of payment.
However, the customs agents believe that the shortfall inherent in the implementation of the policy has resulted in unemployment, non-affordability of the local domestic production, non-availability of the local domestic production, high tariff, which is the highest in the sub-region, diversion of vessels to other West African states with our freight component, lack of mass transit system in our transport space due to high duty levied on all vehicles and the loss of lives by the Customs officers on daily bases due to the demand on Vehicles.
In the petition titled, “The Need to Review the Automotive Policy in Line with the Present Impact on the Economy and International Global Automotive Standard, “they stressed the need for a review of the policy as a result of the impact on the economy and the campaign promise of the Buhari’s government.
“The impact associated with the implementation of the Auto policy is as follows: the huge loss of Customs revenue to government that depend on the seven per cent collection from import duty; massive smuggling due to high demand of motor vehicles in the country as a result of non-availability of affordable domestic production that is not yet in place to meet up with domestic demand; the high cost of purchase of vehicles in the country due to the increase of tariff from previous duty rate of five per cent,10 per cent 20 per cent and 35 per cent to the present rate of 35 per cent -70 per cent on all imported vehicles as against our neighbouring West African countries rate.
“The diversion of motor carrying vessels to neighbouring West African ports, as a result of the non-availability and affordability of the domestic production, lack of mass transit in the country and local demand on the missing link in transportation in the country; the reduction of the maritime work force by 70 per cent, which affects mostly licensed Customs agents, importers, dealers and Nigerians abroad.”
They added that the policy has led to reduction of activities by 40 per cent in the operation of terminal operators who are to pay federal government based on Cargo throughput earnings and shipping companies, that has drastically affected their activities, which result to retrenchments
The policy, they added, has led to the relocation of Nigeria freight component which generates employment and generate wealth to the nation to other West African ports, that is terminal charges/other charges to terminal operators, shipping companies’ charges and licensed Customs agents’ charges, which is supposed to accrue to Nigerian port operators and government.
“It has led to mass movement of Nigerians to neighbouring country to handle shipments of diverted vessels, which will increase the level of development in the neighbouring West African states as a result of the transfer of the freight components that generate employment. It has resulted to high transport cost, which affects transportation of goods and persons of Tariff Heading (8701 and 8702 from five per cent previously to 20 per cent – 35 per cent as against 0 per cent -5 per cent in other neighbouring West African states,” they stated