BY GODFREY BIVBERE
FOLLOWING the extension of implementation of government policy on importation of used vehicles into the country, car assembly plants have commenced massive importation of brand new cars in readiness for July, 2014 when it will come into effect.
A freight forwarder who spoke to Vanguard on the condition of anonymity, explained that most of the assembly plants are working ahead of government to justifying their claim that they have what it takes to meet the need of Nigerians as regards new cars.
The freight forwarder who claimed to be the agent to one of such firms, name withheld, said that his client import of new vehicles has shot up twice what it used to be about six months ago.
The Federal Government had last year jacked up duty on used vehicles imported into the country from 35 percent to 70 percent. At the commencement of the implementation of the policy in February, agents and importers of used vehicles had protested, which resulted in the extension of the commencement date to July.
Recall that Chief Executive Officer of Nissan Motors, Carlos Ghosn, recently said that the first set of Made-in-Nigeria 4×4 SUVs will be rolled out by Nissan Motors in April this year.
Ghosn, who said the vehicles would be rolled out of the old Volkswagen Assembly plant in Lagos, noted it was possible to produce two to three million cars in Nigeria annually.
According to him, this will lead to creation of thousands of direct and indirect jobs in the country.
The same claim was made by other vehicle manufacturing companies, which said they have the capacity to produce made-in-Nigeria cars.
Reacting to the above, former Chairman of the Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarding in Nigeria, CRFFN, and member of the Board of Trustees, BoT, of the Association of Nigeria Licensed Customs Agents, ANLCA, Tony Iju Nwabunike, said that freight forwarders would head for the law court and the National Assembly to challenge the planned commencement of 70 percent increase on duties of imported vehicles.Nwabunike described the new policy as anti-people.
He explained that claims by government that the new law is intended to encourage local manufacturing of vehicles do not hold water as there is no real vehicle manufacturing company in the country presently. He pointed out that what is available in the country presently are vehicle assembling plants and in some cases, importers who pretend to be manufacturers.
According to him, “I challenge anybody that will come here to tell me that he is a manufacturer of automobile in Nigeria. All we have here in Nigeria are assembling plants. Assembling Semi-Knock Down, SKDs, products or Completely Knock Down, CKDs, of products is not total manufacturing of vehicles and cars. So I wonder why federal government will think of putting that 70 percent back. I agree with those who are actually agitating not to pay it and I stand by them by all means to see that it is not done.
Director General, National Automotive Council, NAC, Aminu Jalal, said, “Nigeria spent N550billion on importation of cars, buses and trucks, which does not include tractors and military vehicles. We also spent about N500 billion on spare parts and N150billion on tyres.”