Row over N10b COVID-19 bailout to auto industry

The N10billion COVID-19 bailout as intervention fund to operators in the auto industry, expected to rescue ailing companies and firms to reposition the sector, seems to be shrouded in controversy.

It was gathered that the huge fund is causing ripples as some operators are alleging that they were side-lined in the disbursement.

It was learnt that among the operators, who have been asked to submit documents for verification, were the interstate luxury bus operators under the aegis of the Public Transport Owners of Nigeria Association (PTONA).

PTONA having lost billions of naira during lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic, had expected they would deploy the palliative to beef up their business but up till today, they are yet to benefit.

In a letter dated March 28, 2021, addressed to the Minister of State for Transportation, and signed by the PTONA Deputy President, Emeka Mamah, the group pleaded for the verification of two key issues as it concerns the fund.

They pleaded with the Minister to correct the confusion in treating the N10 billion COVID-19 palliative fund approved for road transporters as MSME Survival fund domiciled with the Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment.

The group also asked for the immediate disbursement of the fund to their members to prevent imminent collapse of interstate passenger transport firms in Nigeria.

PTONA insisted that the fund approved by the Federal Government is different from an aspect of the N60 billion MSME Survival Fund domiciled with the Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment.

It added: “The fund was meant to assist road transporters to resuscitate their businesses that were on negative income throughout the 14 weeks that the country was on complete lockdown for all interstate passenger movement due to COVID-19 pandemic.”

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