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N1.3bn auto council property rot away – Ex-DG

N1.3bn auto council property rot away - Ex-DG

New cars are seen parked at the plant of Volkswagen Group Rus in Kaluga, Russia March 30, 2022. REUTERS/Evgenia Novozhenina

A former acting Director-General of the National Automotive Design and Development Council, Mr Luqman Mamudu, has revealed that multi-billion naira massive land and imported equipment acquired by the agency for auto industry projects in parts of the country have been abandoned.

He said this in Abuja, where chief executive officers of auto companies and other stakeholders called for a review of the Finance Act, which had been making it difficult for local auto assemblers to compete with sellers of fully-built imported vehicles.

They spoke at Auto CEOs Forum, an interactive session involving major players, Ministry of Industry Trade and Investment, heads of relevant government agencies such as Nigeria Customs Service, Bureau of Public Procurement and National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, National Bureau of Statistics, and National Automotive Design and Development Council.

According to Mamudu, the FG invested billions of naira to acquire the huge land and import the needed equipment for industrial clusters in six major cities across the country to give the auto policy a sound footing.

For instance, he said in Ikorodu, a suburb of Lagos State, while about N1bn was spent to bring in test equipment for a facility to test vehicles’ emission level, the government paid N300m for the land housing the test centre.

Mamudu, however, lamented that nothing was currently happening in the Lagos centre and other places.

He debunked the insinuation the NADDC did not consult widely before the auto policy was put together, adding that for about six months the agency held meetings and with other agencies, relevant groups and auto players on the matter.

He gave an overview of the policy, its objectives using a global template and the requirements to actualise the project such as incentives to attract investors/OEMs, acceptable credit facility for vehicle assemblers and buyers and anti-smuggling programme.

He said, “There is no need to change the NAIDP. We need to review time taken for renewal of yearly licence. It doesn’t have to take five months.”

Chairman of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, Brig Gen Buba Marwa, who spoke through Mr. Gadzama Bashir, accused some auto importers of bringing in hard drugs.

Indeed, he said some imported cars from Canada were concealed with Colorado, a variant of cannabis sativa (Indian hemp).

He called for the cooperation of auto players to rid the country of banned substances.

Auto CEOs who spoke included: Olutobi Ajayi of Nord Motors, Taiwo Shittu of Lanre Shittu Motors, and Deputy Managing Director, CFAO Motors, Kunke Jaiyesimi, They said the current import duty of 10 per cent import duty for fully- built units (vehicles) and 10 per cent for Semi-Knocked Down vehicles were discouraging local assembly of vehicles.

“There is no way local assembly plants can compete with FBU vehicle importers at 10 per cent duty. We buy diesel, pay workers, among other running costs but they don’t,” said Ajayi.

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