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Cars Importation: No, Suspend Planned Ban – Reps Tell Buhari

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BEVERLY HILLS, December 08, (THEWILL) – The House of Representatives has urged President Muhammadu Buhari to suspend the ban on importation of new and used cars through land borders.

THEWILL recalls that the ban was announced on December 5, 2016 by the Nigerian Customs Service (NCS) and was scheduled for implementation from January 1, 2017 . 

However, the lawmakers, on Thursday , said the policy was too harsh as it is bound to pile more economic miseries on the majority of Nigerians that are already groaning under the prevailing economic recession following a motion by Abdulahi Salame (APC, Sokoto).

Salame argued that the percentage of Nigerians who can afford cars has declined drastically following the decline in the value of naira, inflation, unemployment and high cost of living that has bedeviled Nigeria where over 80 percent of the population live below $200 a day.

“With its powers under Section 18 of the Customs and Excise Management Act, the government can restrict the movement of goods into and out of Nigeria by land or inland waters and to appoint customs stations, but similar exercise of such powers on rice importation through the land borders in April 2016, has led to untold hardships on Nigerians as a bag of rice now sells for between N20, 000 and N23,000  as against N8,000 few months ago,” he said.

“We are also aware that the government has not put in place alternative measures to ensure that Nigerians will have access to cars since it is cheaper to buy cars from neighbouring countries and still generate revenue by ensuring that our borders are secured to prevent smuggling and also that there will not be job losses.

“Meanwhile, some of those making these policies have failed to patronize made-in-Nigeria goods, especially Nigerian assembled vehicles which are, in any case unaffordable to over 80 percent of Nigerians who can only afford fairly used imported cars.

“It is of concern that despite the pitiable state of most Nigerians occasioned by unemployment, lack of funds for survival and high cost of living which has sent many to their early graves, the government is adopting a policy that will further increase the sufferings of the masses at this critical time the country is in recession.

“It is equally worrisome that the ban will cause more harm than good as it will certainly lead to increase in smuggling, deprive poor Nigerians of access to acquiring vehicles, skyrocket the price of cars cleared at the wharf, increase inflation and further mount pressure on the already weak naira and lead to idleness, insecurity and criminality at the border points.”

The motion was unanimously adopted after it was put to a voice vote by the Speaker, Yakubu Dogara while the Committees on Governmental Affairs and Customs and Excise were mandated to ensure implementation of the resolutions and report back within six weeks for further legislative action.

The lawmakers further urged the Federal government to ensure that the law enforcement agencies, especially those working at the borders, are diligent in their duties by ensuring that import charges through the land borders are paid when due and remitted to the government.

Story by Oputah David