After many deliberations, the Nigerian Customs Service (NCS) has finally begun the implementation of zero surcharges on imported commercial aircraft and spares parts used by local airlines.
The Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON), yesterday, confirmed the removal of mandatory seven per cent charges that airlines have erstwhile paid.
It was a hard-fought battle that dated back to 2016. Though the Ministry of Aviation had rallied against the charges as part of measures to support local airlines, the Ministry of Finance and NCS had continued to impose the charges on operators.
The Guardian learned the matter reached its peak recently at a Senate hearing where the AON renewed campaign against the charges, forcing lawmakers to intervene.
Vice-Chairman of the association, Allen Onyema, said it was on that occasion that the 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 seven 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.
“After the Senate meeting, the airlines contacted the Minister of Finance and Minister of Aviation on the aforementioned challenges, and both Ministers, as representatives of a responsible government, 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 48 hours 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, in getting their aircraft spares and aircraft released. Our planes have since started flying,” Onyema said.
Operators, yesterday, said that the implementation has begun on July 7, 2021.