By Franklin Alli
Association of Luxury Bus OwnersÂ have mounted pressure on the Minister of Commerce and Industry, Chief Achike Udenwa, for reduction of the duty payable on imported commercial vehicles especiallyÂ Fully Built Mass transit vehicles (FBV) and road haulage vehicles from 10 per cent to 5 percent.
They are also asking the Minister to elimination Value Added Tax (VAT) from taxes payable on such imported vehicles since they were formerly exempted from VAT payments in view of their economic improvement roles and extension of soft loan to operators for re fleeting of their vehicles.
The Secretary ofÂ the Association Mr. Frank Nneji , who recently led a delegation ofÂ members to the Minister, said their operations are being threatened by high cost of vehicle maintenance which takes up to 40 per cent of revenue in the 4th year andÂ worsening road condition Receiving the delegation, the Minister commended themÂ for their contributions to the national economy in spite of the hash condition under which they operate.
He acknowledged that members of the AssociationÂ play a critical roleÂ in the national economy with regards to movement of goods and services around and outside the country.
In his words, â€œI think we all know the importance of transportation in any economy.Â When the goods and services cannot move around, there would be no economy.Â Your own sector is a sector that guarantees movements of personal and light cargo.Â You provide very essential services within the economy.Â We do agree also that generally the economy is operating under a very hash condition, including high interest rate which cannot in any way encourage profitable venture.Â I will not be surprise, some of your embers are dropping out, it is something sad and regrettableâ€.
The Hon. Minister pointed out that government isÂ paying good attention to the transport sector.Â He said that members of the Association must appreciate the efforts of government in trying to improve Inland Water Ways.
He said that last week the President flagged off the dredging of River Niger at Lokoja, saying that by the time we are able to dredge the River Niger from the creek up to North you will see a lot of goods would move by water and this will free the roads.
On the issue of high interest rate, the Minister said that this isÂ the bane of Industry and Commerce in Nigeria.Â He explained that the Banks buy money and sell money just as other sectors are crying, the banking industry is also crying.Â He said that government at this time was trying to peg the margin between cost of funds and lending rate.Â He said that as long as the economy remains inflationary you will see that the interest rate will continue to increase.
He said that Government was looking at a way of establishing special funds for special sector.Â The funds, according to him, have to be sourced from else where other than just normal deposit by individuals.