Mr. Lucky Amiwero is a Maritime and International Trade Expert. He was the guest on “Today On STV” where he looked at the consequences on the ban on vehicle importation through land borders.
What are your thoughts on the policy?
Looking at the policy holistically, why do we have the policy, looking at the history with the issue of vehicles we started this whole process from 1995-1996 when the Marikan Ali the Minister of Finance introduced idea on vehicles and age restriction of eight years on Vehicle and the national council even for the Policy to succeed we are not there yet.
As a member of the committee, we had to fight the restriction at that time from 1996-1998. Our ports where empty, that decision led to diversion of vehicles into Cotonou and building institutions there and there was massive loss of revenue. I was in most of the government committee then and in 1998 the government removed the two restrictions ( age and idea rule).
The vehicles on age restriction there was a problem and it was removed and trailers and cars were moved into the country that is the history of the used vehicles.
In 2013, the government came up with a policy, and was researched globally and the policy had three components that were on protection of tariff and zero on machinery, CKD and other components to make it drive what was not there.
The concept of South African Motor Industry from 1996-2006 there was an overview and brought component to reequip their industry.
What we have done is to extend and implement the tax policy, for instance South Africa brought in import rebate and credit certificate.
In developing a sector you need to focus thoroughly on that sector, can we be able to lay hand which means self-sufficiency, the government need to review the policy in line with certain challenges that are critical to the survival of the Auto Industry,
Globally, automobile industry is an industry we need to focus on seriously, we are not starting on a good process putting the cart before the horse, the government need to call the stakeholders and most of this components are imported components and they need incentives in order to survive. Production rebate, dual backs issues that are critical to bring up the industry. We are not driving the process perfectly.
There is a misconception from the government because the borders are entry ports and legal entry points from the border which include border stations, the government is confused calling it contraband, when you go to SEME, there are custom commands and duty are paid and accounted for.
What will say is the primary goal of this policy?
The primary goal of the policy is a misconception, impact assessment, this are entry ports where we have normal procedures going on.
Having been in 137 committee and 9 presidential committee, the policy is a misconception, in trade policies during Obasanjo Regime there was a grace period.
The 10,000 cars been held is Nigerian assets, it’s not their mistake because they imported through a legal area, there is every need for those cars to come and they pay their normal duty and they come in legitimately.
In taking a structural policy that is going to affect the import community you need to do a lot of fact finding.
“Have we implemented on inspection, we are not doing it right. For instance we have to address the cost of our ports recently the shipping company increased the government tax to N38,000 and terminal handling charges and delivery handling charges and Ghana has removed terminal handling charges and Nigeria is still on introducing more charges.
The reason people import using Cotonou border is because of port cost and our port is expensive and one of the most expensive in the world. We have cars that are stocked and must come in, so the government must reverse the policy though clearing agents are saying it will increase the number of smuggling and they will find a way to reroute this vehicles and increase the amount of cars been sold, what’s your take on this?
Government must find a way to the Auto Industry and analyze the cars, the right way is to give them grace period because the auto policy was done in a haste. It must be six months logistic period, it’s been done internationally. Also at the time of the policy did they review the bill of lading and we have trap vessels that are coming at any time.
The Policy is causing a huge indictment on the Custom and Customs don’t make policy they implement the policies. Presently the State, leakages in the collection of Nigerian border, there are also a leakage in every other country of the world, they are reduced drastically by electronic system. Most specific tariff are not involved what the custom is using today is purchase pricing, the custom exercise amend factory of 2003, ex-factory price is a dormant price.
There should be a committee to look at the port, auto policy and border system, you must balance this issues critically. Nigeria do not have mass transportation because we have not developed our coastal line, no ferry and our airports are been shut down, there is no rail road and our auto policy is not working properly.
No Automobile Industry can produce with the current exchange rate, the seaports are not in conventions and not in line and the tariff we are operating are not going well.
Areas we need to amend and looking at a holistic approach, the government need to setup committee of expert to review auto policy, the auto sector is a special sector and has to done with international commitment, address port cost.
Nigerians need to look globally and see what can assist the country to develop so we can use that to build our nation, grow the process and create jobs. We are losing out in the whole process, in Togo and Cotonou ships are trooping there and we have lost because of our drought and political issues, we need to bring expert to address this issue of transit, cargo shipment, and the 3 layers of cargo route.