The Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) said on Thursday that revenue on car importation into the country dropped by 20 per cent this year, a fallout of the Federal Government’s Automobile Policy.
It warned that the revenue dip was a bad omen for the government’s overall revenue take and called for the urgent review of the policy in order to reduce the losses.
The automobile policy was introduced by the government to encourage local car production/assembly plants, while cutting importation and raising import duties.
The Managing Director, NPA, Hadiza Bala-Usman, told the House of Representatives Committee on Ports, Harbours/Waterways that the policy had led to a revenue loss of 20 per cent.
Bala-Usman appeared before the committee, which is chaired by a lawmaker from Enugu State, Mr Pat Asadu, to speak on the Internally Generated Revenue of the NPA for 2017 and the projections for this year.
She stated that contrary to the government’s expectations, the policy had not achieved its objectives, while on the other hand, the agency continued to lose revenue that would have ordinarily accrued from car importation.
Bala-Usman said, “We have written Mr President on this policy and we will continue to defend our position that it (policy) should be reviewed, because the government runs the risk of losing both ways.
“We have recorded a drop in revenue by 20 per cent. How many cars are being manufactured and how many Nigerians can really afford to buy brand new cars?
“So, the implication is that while the government is losing revenue on importation, the manufacturing or assembly plants are not achieving the aims of the policy.”
The MD stated that while the NPA’s projected IGR for 2017 was N278.5bn, the actual amount generated was N288.6bn, while the overall income of the agency for the year was N302.9bn.
On the budget for operations, she said while the projected figure was N96.4bn, the actual performance was N84.6bn.
Bala-Usman also informed the committee that the N174bn budgeted for capital projects had a 53.5 per cent performance (N114.3bn).
For 2018, the NPA has projected N292bn as its IGR, but as much as N232bn will go into recurrent expenditure.
However, lawmakers queried the NPA’s capital expenditure-to-personnel cost ratio of 55 per cent to 44 per cent, describing it as unacceptable.
For instance, Asadu stated that the committee expected the NPA to have a lean personnel cost, owing to the various port reforms aimed at cutting waste.
“You are supposed to spend less on personnel cost because of the port reforms and concessions. Why is your personnel cost so high? Forty-four per cent, compared to the 55 per cent of your capital implementation?” he asked.
But, Bala-Usman replied that she inherited a system in the NPA that promoted employees to higher positions, who were not paid their dues.
She stated, “In fact, because of this problem, people did not want to be promoted. When you were promoted, your salary was reduced.
“We want to clear this backlog and there are more members of staff to be promoted. This explains the changes in the personnel cost.”
The committee later suspended consideration of her submissions to give lawmakers more time to study the documents she tendered.