The Federal Government on Wednesday approved the Automotive Industrial Policy Development Plan for the country.
The decision was taken at the Federal Executive Council meeting presided over by President Goodluck Jonathan.
Through the policy, the government hopes to significantly reduce the high vehicle importation bill, which stood at $3.4bn (N550bn) in 2012.
As a first step, the Federal Government said all vehicles purchased by it would be from local assembly plants, except they were specialised and could not be produced in the country.
The ministers of Information, Mr. Labaran Maku; Federal Capital Territory, Bala Muhammed; and Industry, Trade and Investment, Olusegun Aganga, briefed State House correspondents at the end of the meeting.
Aganga said the policy was aimed at transforming the Nigerian automotive industry and attracting investments into the sector.
He said a situation where the nation spent N4.2bn on the importation of vehicles into the country in 2010 was eating deep into the foreign reserves.
Aganga said in arriving at the policy, which took about nine months to put together, the government got the input of some car manufacturing giants like Nissan and Toyota.
These companies, he added, would soon announce their investments in the country.
He said, “A transformed automotive industry will realise its potential as a major driver of economic growth and diversification, job creation, local value addition, and technology acquisition.
“These recommendations were adopted at various conferences and consultations with stakeholders, including some original equipment manufacturers. After deliberation, the Council approved the Automotive Industrial Policy Development Plan.
“Council also approved that the government should direct that all vehicle purchased by the government should be from the local
assembly plants unless it is specialised in nature and the NAC has certified that it is not produced in Nigeria
“The Council approved that the recommendation should be backed by appropriate legislation to give comfort to investors that there will be no abrupt change in policy.”
He added that his ministry had taken note of what led to the collapse of similar policies in the past and had taken measures to avoid the same fate for the new policy.
According to the minister, highlights of the new policy include the establishment of three automotive clusters across the country, the revival of the metal/steel sector and the tyre manufacturing industry to support the sector.
Aganga added that the government would work on tariff to encourage local manufacture and discourage importation of vehicles.
Mohammed said the Council also approved the rehabilitation and expansion of the outer Southern Expressway in the FCT from the Villa Roundabout to the OSEX/Ring Road 1(RR1) junction, including five interchanges, in the sum of N39bn.
He said the project was aimed at ensuring free flow of traffic and significantly reduce travel time in and out of the city.
The minister said, “The existing segment of the OSEX from the Villa roundabout to RR1 is only partially developed with a two-lane main carriageway and one two-lane service carriageway as against the 10-lane expressway provided in the Abuja Master Plan.”
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