The Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Mr. Olusegun Aganga, has said Nigerians spend a total of $6.5bn (N1.096tn) on the importation of cars and car parts annually.
Aganga spoke in a pre-recorded interview as part of the 2014 Investor Conference of FBN Capital Limited, which had as its theme, ‘Lifting the lid on emerging Nigeria.’
The minister said, “We spend $3bn every year importing cars and another $3.5bn every year importing parts.
“That is why the auto policy is an economic issue, it is a job creation issue, it is a revenue issue, but it is also a balance of payment issue.”
Aganga explained that with a young population of an average age of about 18.6 and which was expected to be the third largest in the world by 2070, the country could not continue importing cars.
“That is why we must invest in assembling and increasing the local content, and be part of the global value chain for the auto industry,” he said.
Addressing concerns that the National Automotive Policy was hurriedly formulated and was, therefore, not sustainable, Aganga stressed that such claims were untrue.
The reality, according to him, is that the policy was the result of industry-wide consultations and took into consideration the socio-political and economic realities in the country.
The minister, who admitted that in implementing the policy, there would be some pains for some people, reiterated that the policy would pay off in the long run if rigidly implemented.
He said, “If they (Nigerians) understand where we are going, why we are going there and know that government has no intention of making their lives very difficult, and it is just in the interest of the whole economy and the country, they will understand why they need to be on board.
“And we will do everything to make it easier for them.”
He explained that it was in order to make things easier that the Federal Government came up with a Vehicle Credit Purchase Scheme.
The scheme is meant to allow Nigerians borrow money and buy brand new cars and pay over a four-year period at single digit interest rate rather than paying cash.