Officials plan response to massive waivers allegation
There is unease in government circles over the allegation that Nigeria will lose billions of naira to waivers granted some businessmen to import 290 luxury vehicles for next month’s World Economic Forum taking place in Abuja.
A source told The Nation in Abuja that some government officials planned to respond to this allegation today.
An official conversant with the waiver said the government was working on a response to the petition written to President Goodluck Jonathan by members of the Nigerian Auto Manufacturers Association (NAMA).
The official also said that “some members of the association had also applied for the waiver but because they were not prequalified they may have become angry”.
Nineteen NAMA members last week urged the Federal Government to cancel the import duty waivers granted to an unnamed businessmen to import cars into the country, claiming that “the import waivers would sabotage the new automotive policy launched by the government and cause a loss of billions of naira in revenue”.
The local vehicle manufacturers said: “We made a representation to the Nigerian Economic Summit team handling the preparation for the World Economic Forum, to be hosted in Nigeria in May 2014. We undertook to supply vehicles to the summit at our expense and indicated our preparedness to pay duty as may be agreed by government for the vehicles. We submitted the letters to the World Economic Summit Group in January 2014. There was no constructive engagement or response to the offer.”
However, they later learnt that the government had issued a letter of duty waiver, valid for one year-from February 2014- to certain auto importers, to import 290 luxury vehicles for the World Economic Summit taking place in May 2014.
This decision, they said, is retrogressive and scandalous as their members, “who have taken a risk of investing in the production in Nigeria, are facing the greatest fear that well placed vested interests in the auto import trade will work to undermine this policy. A duty waiver valid for one year for a one week event taking place in May 2014 is open border to flood our markets with imported vehicles and destroy the domestic market for locally produced vehicles”.
The car manufacturers recalled that the association pleaded with the government to demonstrate its commitment to the National Automotive Policy, released six months ago, by patronising automotive assembly companies, which demonstrated faith in this economy, by investing in manufacturing facilities in Nigeria.
NAMA said it regretted that certain elements in the society, “in pursuit of personal wealth, are prepared to stop at nothing to scuttle our aspirations to develop as a nation”.
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