Cars (Unfinished)Top functionaries of the Federal Government may be compelled to buy made-in-Nigeria vehicles as official cars and other uses as a part of measures to boost local production of automobiles.

Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo made the declaration in Abuja at the opening of the 17th edition of the Abuja International Motor Fair.

He also said that plans were underway to review the nation’s automotive policy introduced in September 2013 to curtail the influx of used and fully assembled vehicles.

Osinbajo, who was represented at the event by the Acting Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment, Mohammed Badamasuyi, said, “Government is aware that low patronage is one of the challenges confronting the domestic automobile industry in Nigeria. In this regard, this administration will lead the campaign of buying made-in-Nigeria vehicles through public procurement to stimulate the industry.”

The vice-president also said the government will collaborate with the local automobile industries and banks to provide interested individuals with soft loans to enable the masses to purchase locally-made cars at discounted prices and pay over a period of time.

He expressed concern over the high cost of importing vehicles into the country and its impact on the economy, adding that the government was seeking ways to improve the auto policy to address the problem.

“Government will seek new ways of improving the Automotive Industry Development Policy in order to protect the industry. The high cost of importing fully built vehicles and used cars into the country is having serious impact on the economy. This trend would be reversed as quickly as possible,” he said.

He lamented that the nation was currently importing about 400,000 vehicles annually with a total bill of about N1.2 trillion, which made the sector the second largest consumer of foreign exchange.

The vice-president, however, noted that Nigeria remains a large market for the auto industry with a population of over 170 million people and a viable middle class. “It is on record that about 10 million cars currently exist on Nigerian roads, creating a large market for spare parts,” he said.

As part of measures to improve the situation, he said the government would continue to use fiscal and non-fiscal measures to reduce the influx of the nation’s market with used cars and encourage vehicle manufacturers to establish auto assembly plants in Nigeria.

“In addition, the government will ensure that existing incentives in the auto sector are implemented and new ones initiated to encourage automobile and spare parts manufacturers,” he said.

By Pita Ochai

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