The decision to slash duty on imported vehicles in the country is not an attempt by the Federal Government to kill the country’s automobile manufacturing industry, but to reduce the cost of transportation on the people in the face of growing economic challenges, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has said.
The VP was speaking in Abuja on Monday at the opening plenary session of the 26th Nigeria Economic Summit (NES#26) on the theme “Building Partnerships for Resilience.”
He was reacting to views expressed by a panelist, Chidi Ajaere, who said the decision by the government to cut the duty imposed on imported vehicles from 35 per cent to five per cent was a disincentive to prospective and existing investors in the local manufacturing of vehicles.
Mr. Ajaere, who is the Chief Executive of GIG Group, owners of the God Is Good Transport Company, said the sudden change in policy by the government allegedly without consultation had sent wrong signal to prospective investors in the sector.
Mr Ajaere narrated a personal experience on the impact of the inconsistencies in government policies in the country.
Following the announcement of a policy to encourage private sector to go into local manufacturing of automobiles, he said GIG Group decided to go into partnership with some foreign investors three years ago to invest in the building of a plant for the manufacturing of ‘made in Nigeria’ vehicles.
Pursuant to the initiative, he said the group spent over N5 billion of private funds, without any loans from the banks, to build the vehicle assembly plant.
He said the government’s decision, without consultations, to cut the duty on imported vehicles from 35 per cent to five per cent appears to have put the project in disarray, as the partners do not know what purpose the sudden policy somersault was meant to serve.
“We have invested all that money. What is going to happen to us (the investors in that vehicle assembly plant) now with the policy summersault? Will the Federal Government com to our aid with incentives for the monies sunk already into the investment?” he lamented.