NASS Ditch Auto Policy In N8.4bn Automobile Acquisition Plan

The National Assembly (NASS) may have treated the country’s automotive policy as an orphan, as both the executive and the legislature ditched the policy in their plan to acquire various automobiles budgeted at a whopping N4.7 billion for the National Assembly and over N3.7 billion for principal officials of the federal government.
Checks revealed that of all the cars, sports utility vehicles (SUVs) and other logistics vehicles to be purchased by both the National Assembly and the presidency, none of them is among the locally assembled models currently in the country, raising doubts on the support of the government on the national automotive policy.
While the Presidency voted the sum of N3.63 billion for BMW saloon cars for principal officers and another N189.1 million voted for tyres for various vehicles, including the bulletproof and plain Mercedes Benz cars being used in the Presidency in the 2016 budget, the Senate plans to spend its share of the total sum of N4.7 billion on Toyota Land Cruisers 2016 model for its 109 members. The senators also want their vehicles to come with integrated navigator cruise control, QI-Compatible wireless charging and Kinetic dynamic suspension system.
The House of Representatives plans to buy two Mercedes Benz S550, 2016 Model, with full option and pullet proof, as well as 14 Toyota Land Cruisers, 5.7L petro engine, 2016 Model with full option and  keyless entry.
The identities of the choice cars for the members of the legislature were contained in an advertorial placed in one of the national dailies on November 13. Other favoured car brands and models include American brand, V8, VXR, “with intelligence,” Peugeot 607 and 406 sedans, Prado jeeps, Hilux vans and other exotic Toyota models, broadly described as “utility and operational vehicles.” None of these are currently being assembled in Nigeria. 
While Toyota, Mercedes and BMW cars are not being assembled in the country at the moment, PAN, Nigeria has not commenced local manufacturing of Peugeot 607 and 406 models, suggesting the government and the NASS will have to source the vehicles from abroad, while jettisoning the made-in-Nigeria brands and models.
Automobile industry investors and stakeholders decried the plan of the government to source the vehicles outside the country, stressing that sourcing the automobiles from the local industry would save the country from huge capital flight that leads to severe loss of foreign exchange. 
“Even though the National Automotive Industry Development Plan (NAIDP) does not recommend that government vehicles be bought from the local plants. What the NASS is doing is like treating the auto policy like an orphan,” said an automobile industry analyst, Engineer Patrick Igwe.
“The NASS comprises 109 Senators, 360 members of the House of Representatives, 13 Commissioners in the National Assembly Service Commission; the management arm of the legislature, which has a staff strength of about 3,210. All these people will buy a car this year, as it were. Assuming they buy these cars from the KIA plant, from Peugeot plant in Kaduna or from the VON plant in Lagos which is operated by Stallion Motors. May be you people (the media) should tell the government that these plants have excellent SUVs, jeeps and cars that can be used as official vehicles,” Igwe said.
Another industry analyst and investor, Chief Bayo Stephens said government’s patronage of the locally made cars would be a good omen for the industry and help to build and sustain deeper acceptability for made-in Nigeria cars.
“This is not the first time we are having this policy in force. It happened before when we had PAN making Peugeot cars 504 and the rest. Let me mention that it was government’s patronage that sustained the operations of the plant and it was doing so well. The records are there.
“Now, if the law makers and even the presidency want to buy cars with such an amount of money and they are not even considering buying from the Nissan, Hyundai and the Innoson brands, then it tells of their lack of support for the local automobile industry; it means they are not there for the auto policy and it is not a good sign from the government who should set example,” said Stephens.
As part of the auto policy, the federal government hiked the tariff on imported fully built units (FBU) to 70 per cent, while pegging tariff on semi knocked down 1 and 2 (SKD 1&2) at five per cent and 10 per cent respectively. The policy recommends zero tariff on imported completely knocked down (CKD) in a bid to discourage importation of built cars to create market for those assembled in the country, as well as encourage importation of SKD and CKD for local manufacturing of cars.
“The implication of buying these cars from overseas, or buying from dealers of such imported fully built cars in the country is that they will pay nearly double of the cost because of the implementation of the policy tariff on the imported cars. It is simple sense,” Stephens added.
President Muhammadu Buhari had during the recent media chat carpeted the National Assembly for approving N4.7 billion for the purchase of cars for themselves, amidst the current economic woes faced by the country. Buhari said if he could turn down N400 million proposal for presidential vehicles, he expected the law makers to do same.
Some senators, who reacted to the President’s opposition to the purchase of new cars, faulted Buhari’s argument and insisted that there was no going back on the acquisition, as according to them, the loans collected for the cars were already being deducted from their monthly salaries.
In a statement by its spokesman, Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi, the upper chamber said the vehicles were part of the necessities which the institution usually provide committees to enable them function without depending on external bodies for effective performance of oversight functions.
Members of both chambers of the National Assembly had collected between N7 million and N8 million each, totalling about N400m as car loans in August 2015. The lawmakers had said the 469 cars they planned to buy would be used for oversight functions by members of the National Assembly. 

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