Between Customs 45% and LCCI’s 15%, can indigenous firms survive?
Strong fireworks are raging on what percentage will the Federal Government peg the current 70 per cent import levy on vehicles coming into Nigeria, there are two key stakeholders contending with divergent rates.
Whereas the Nigerian Customs Service (NCS) calls for reduction to 45 per cent, the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), averred that the import levy of 50 percent on new vehicles should be reduced to 15 percent.
However, there is an angle to the issue which key players are yet to consider should the rate be brought down unprecedentedly as touted.
The struggling indigenous auto manufacturers may be the worst loser if there is substantial reduction in the levy, experts allege.
Some top officials of local car manufacturing or assembly plants say whereas they are already in business due to the harsh economic environment and weak purchasing power of Nigerians, any further reduction in the import duties of cars will worsen their predicaments.
The Comptroller General of Customs, Hameed Ali, in his argument claimed that the high import duty on cars have provided jobs and high revenues for neighbouring ports who have flattened their rates to encourage Nigerians to use their ports for direct smuggling via bush parts along the porous Nigerian land and sea borders.
However, Yusuf, in a statement, said the reduction could come with the 20 percent import duty even as he also wants the import levy of 25 percent on commercial vehicles to be reviewed downwards to 15 percent in while that of on used cars should be reviewed from current 25 percent to 15 percent.
LCCI boss made it clear that “Government should give further tax concessions and waivers to the assembly plants in the spirit of the auto policy. Other incentives for assembly plants and tyre industries for acquisition of machineries and equipment should be retained as contained in the Automotive policy.”