WASHINGTON: The Federal Government has commenced the review of all waivers on taxes and Custom duties on imports approved for some sectors by the President Goodluck Jonathan administration.
Some of the waivers were granted by the former President to indigenous investors and businesses as part of measures geared towards boosting investments in those sectors.
Transport Minister, Mr. Rotimi Amaechi, however, said the Buhari administration had found out that the waivers had been subjected to various forms of abuses that tended to encourage corruption and shortchanging of the government rather than boosting the targeted industries.
In the aviation sector, for instance, airline operators were allowed by the previous government to enjoy waivers on imported aircraft spares in a bid cut down on a skyrocketing cost of operation by airlines fueled by high cost of spare parts, fuel and insurance, among others.
In the last couple of months, investors in the domestic airline industry have raised concerns over the decision of the Buhari government to order the stoppage of the waivers, a policy they noted had been gazette and as such its continuous implementation should have been considered as a law that could not be arbitrarily breached.
Amaechi who addressed the complaints of the airline operators over the weekend explained that the stoppage of such waivers was not just restricted to the aviation industry but that it had been extended to cover all other waivers granted by the previous government.
“The Federal Government is reviewing all waivers granted by the last administration because the waivers were thoroughly abused,” Amaechi said. One airline operator said the government had erred in stopping the waivers given that Nigeria does not manufacture any aircraft spare part and that the cost of imported spares had grown by more than 70 per cent in the last four months with the high exchange rate of the naira to the dollar.
There is, however, hope that the conclusion of the review would allow the government an opportunity to take a second look at the waivers that should be allowed to stay and those that should be completely done away with.
According to Amaechi, the government was fully aware of the challenges faced by indigenous airline owners and he said a meeting would be scheduled between the investors and the government at a later date to look at the challenges.
The Transport Minister said one of the ways of resolving the crisis in the domestic airline industry was for Nigeria to own its own national carrier that would also compete with other existing domestic and international carriers. He said a report on the proposed national carrier had already been submitted to the government and that it was being studied.