GOVT SHIFTS AUTO POLICY IMPLEMENTATION TO 2015 …Nigeria Made Cars Yet to meet SON requirements

The Federal Government has bowed to intensed pressure and lobbying over its new policy on importation of automobiles into the country which was supposed to commence on July 2014 by shifting to a new date of January 1,2015

The shift in date is the fallout of the lobbying machinery of different stakeholders which included freight forwarding associations, logistics organisations and importers.

Government came under pressure as the policy which aims at increasing the tariff on imported vehicles as a way of encouraging Nigerians to patronize locally made vehicles was widely condemned as being too hasty.

The various lobbies were said to have been coordinated by a non-government organisation; the Maritime Advocacy and Action Group (MAAG).

By the new development, vehicles imported into the country will continue to pay the 35 percent duty, instead of the additional 35 levy that would have been collected as from July 1, 2014.

Investigations revealed that the government took a final second look at the policy’s implementation date after recently held automotive summit which held in Lagos.

Attended by different interest groups, the summit was organised by the National Automotive Council (NAC) to put all stakeholders’ fears about the new auto policy on the table and assess the successes recorded so far.

At the meeting, the Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON) had called the attention of those in attendance to the fact that, none of the assembly plants that have been promising to roll-out the Nigeria-assembled vehicles has approached the agency for standardization of their products.

The SON’s representative who also heads its Inspectorate and Compliance department insisted that any vehicle that comes out of the assembly plants must meet Nigerian standards.

He told the gathering that SON has not approved any such vehicles that are currently being assembled in Nigeria. For them to ply Nigerian roads, they must get SON certification, he had insisted.

It was confirmed that the decision to further extend the implementation date by another six months was informed by the fact that none of the assembly plants has actually rolled out vehicles in commercial quantity. In addition, there were issues bordering on standardization , as well as the stiff opposition from stakeholders.

When contacted however, the National Coordinator of MAAG; Alhaji Alhassan Dantata confirmed the development even as he praised President Goodluck Jonathan for “having a listening ear”. According to him, the extension is a confirmation of the fact that Government can listen when confronted with genuine facts about issues.

“MAAG wishes to use this opportunity to thank the President, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, the Minister of Industries, Trade and Investment; Dr. Olusegun Aganga and the Director General of National Automotive Council, Engr. Aminu Jalal for seeing reason with the position of MAAG on this issue”, he stated.

He also explained that, even though MAAG is support of the auto policy, a proper and realistic roadmap needs to be designed for implementation. “While not opposed to the new policy, our position has always been that the infrastructures must be visible on a level playing field and that the automobile plants must not take advantage of it to the detriment of the average Nigerian”.
“Already, there are fears that prices of imported used and new vehicles will skyrocket, but we are happy that the extension has been granted”, he stressed.

It is believed that the Federal Government backed off from the policy subtly when it realized that it could serve as a political demerit in the build up to the February 14 2015 Presidential Elections.

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