Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON) has lauded the Federal Government over the immediate response in the removal of the 7 per cent surcharge on imported aircraft and spares.
The operators also commended the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) for the swift implementation of the directive by the government.
Mr Allen Onyema, the Vice Chairman of AON in an interview with aviation journalists on Wednesday in Lagos said that the waiver had further boosted the performance of the indigenous airline operators.
Onyema who is also the Chairman of Air Peace also frowned at a media distortion of the proceedings in the interactive forum at the Senate on July 6, 2021, when he made a presentation on behalf of the airlines on the challenges facing the airline subsector in the country.
According to him, an online medium reported the meeting as an issue concerning Air Peace alone and brought ethnic dimension to it, which he described as highly condemnable.
Onyema explained that the Senate Committee on Aviation held an interactive meeting with all the aviation agencies in Nigeria led by the Minister of Aviation, Sen. Hadi Sirika together with all Nigerian airlines represented by the AON leadership in which he represented the association as Vice President and made a presentation on behalf of the body.
“The meeting was called by the Senate to discuss the reasons for the recent upsurge in flight delays and flight cancellations amongst other issues and challenges facing the aviation industry. It was on this occasion that AON made its presentation of challenges facing all the airlines.
“Our member airlines were present but we made an articulated collective presentation to the Senate, which I read as the Vice President on behalf of the association,” he further explained.
“It was on this occasion that AON presented the issue of the partial implementation of the Finance Act 2020 which prohibits the payment of duties and VAT on imported aircraft and aircraft spares by the Customs Service. Of note, was the presence of a 7 per cent Surcharge on the assessed duties which was not supposed to be.
“This caused delays in the clearance of aircraft and aircraft spares leading to the grounding of aircraft that would have been flying,” he explained.
The AON Vice Chairman stated that after the Senate meeting, the airlines contacted the Ministers of Finance and Aviation on the aforementioned challenges, stressing that “as representatives of a responsible government, the two ministers swung into action immediately.”
“AON, for the avoidance of doubt, commends the Federal Government for its unflinching support for the growth of indigenous investments in Nigeria. This was very evident in the manner the government got this challenge addressed immediately within 48hours to the joy of the airlines.
“We equally commend the Nigerian Customs Service for also assisting the airlines, including but not limited to Air Peace which was used as an example, in getting their aircraft spares and aircraft released. Our planes have since started flying,” he said.
Onyema said since July 7, 2021, airlines had been clearing their aircraft spares and aircraft without having to pay any 7 per cent surcharge.
“It is therefore very mischievous for any media outfit to be circulating videos of the presentation of AON complaints made on July 6th two weeks after the said presentation and two weeks after the issues had been resolved as though they are still existing.
”The target of the sponsors of this falsehood is the Federal government of President Muhammadu Buhari. I personally frown at the ethnic angle presently circulating in the social media that the ‘Fulani is destroying Air Peace.
“Those who want the country to go up in turmoil will never stop fanning divisive falsehood. The video was deliberately doctored to show only my face while obscuring the presence of the entire Senate committee members, Minister of Aviation and the leadership of all Aviation agencies in Nigeria. The target here is also me. No amount of deliberate intimidation, blackmail and falsehood will deter me from standing up for Peace and unity in my country. This has been my life since my childhood.
“It is very untrue that Air Peace is being dealt with by the ‘Fulani rather the Federal Government led by President Muhammadu Buhari is very protective of every indigenous investment including those of the airlines,” he added.
He said that contrary to the insinuations that only Air Peace was singled out by Customs to pay those contested surcharges; it was all the airlines that were affected.
The AON Vice Chairman said the present government, in its pursuit for the growth of indigenous airlines, helped in getting the Bill removing duties and VAT from imported commercial aircraft and aircraft spares passed, while the President wasted no time in giving his assent and signing into law, describing the move as commendable.
Read the Source post on Independent Newspaper Nigeria.