The current imbroglio in the Nigerian aviation industry arising from automation of payment systems has pitted the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) against the domestic airlines under the aegis of Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON).
The dispute arose from the deadline issued to the eight domestic airlines to automate their remittance of the statutory five per cent Ticket Sales Charge/Cargo Sales Charge (TSC/CSC) to the regulatory authority which ended on March 31.
While the NCAA insists on the immediate compliance with the directive, the airlines want it to be suspended until the parameters which constitute the charges are clearly and properly defined.
The decision to collect the charges on behalf of the NCAA was a suggestion by the airlines operators in 2001.
It was unanimously adopted and an agreement signed by all parties after series of meetings and exchange of correspondences; it was subsequently enshrined in all the subsisting regulations.
However, the remittances have become a thorny issue between both parties due to lack of transparency and flagrant refusal of some of the airlines to put the money back into the coffers of the agency.
Thus, the NCAA had on December 6, 2016 mandated the airlines to automate the process by January 1, 2017.
Mr Sam Adurogboye, the General Manager, Public Relations of NCAA, says there is a move to put an end to airlines indebtedness to the agency which currently stands at over N15 billion.
He notes that the Aviation Revenue Automation Project (ARAP) system is being introduced to ensure transparency, accurate billing and prompt payments of charges due from the airlines to the NCAA.
According to him, this is in line with the Nigerian Civil Aviation Regulations (NCARs) 2015, Vol. 2, Part 18.12.5.
“The NCARs 2015 states thus: that all domestic and international airlines operating in Nigeria should forward to the authority through an electronic platform provided by the authority, all relevant documents such as flown coupons, passenger or cargo manifest, air way bills, load sheets, clients’ service invoices and other documents necessary for accurate billing within 48 hours after each flight’’.
Adurogboye says it was pertinent to point out that this directive has the full backing of the Federal Government for full implementation and strict compliance.
However, following series of meetings between the airline operators and the Director-General of NCAA, Capt. Muhtar Usman, the deadline was extended to March 31, to give them more time to comply with the directive.
With the expiration of the deadline, the NCAA issued a final compliance notice to the airlines, warning that “failure to comply will be viewed seriously as the authority will be forced to invoke the necessary provisions of the law against defaulting airline’’.
Reacting to the ultimatum, the AON President, Capt. Nogie Meggisson, says it is done in “bad faith’’ because the issues surrounding it have yet to be resolved.
“AON has no problem with the NCAA going ahead to automate the collection and remittance of the said charges.
“However, the NCAA needs to give clarification on what constitutes the five per cent Ticket and Cargo Sales Charge.
“The five per cent TSC is only applicable on base fare in compliance with industry practice and as currently applicable to international carriers operating out of Nigeria,’’ Meggisson said.
He also accuses the NCAA of discriminating against the domestic airlines because foreign airlines are not mandated to join the same automation platform.
“It is apparent that NCAA is preying on domestic airlines which they see as an easy target, a cash cow and for cheap publicity.
“They are over regulating domestic operators and pushing domestic airlines to the edge of insolvency and bankruptcy.
“It is this kind of policy that has reduced the lifespan of Nigerian airlines and has consumed over 25 airlines in the last 30 years since deregulation in 1982,’’ he says.
According to him, in spite of the tax burden on airlines, the infrastructure and service level continue to deteriorate across all facets of the industry under the same authority.
He adds that while airlines in other West African countries operate 24 hours, Nigerian carriers are subjected to daylight operations only till 6.30 p.m. in most our airports.
Responding to Meggisson’s call for the suspension of the payment system, Adurogboye insists that the airlines must comply with the directive or risk sanctions by NCAA.
He says it is pertinent to point out that the NCAA is an autonomous regulatory agency which continues to remain solvent by cost recovery in line with ICAO Standard and Recommended Practices (SARPs).
Adurogboye says this could only be derived from the five per cent ticket and cargo sales charges statutorily.
He notes that the directive to automate covers both domestic and foreign airlines, adding that the foreign airlines have complied fully by remitting their collections through the International Air Transport Association/Billing Settlement Plan (IATA/BSP).
However, some industry watchers have appealed to both parties to amicably resolve the issue in the interest of the sector, especially as a result of its pivotal role in the socio-economic development of the country.
Asowata is of the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN)
Imported Goods Killing Local Production – Presidency
The Presidency has frowned at the rate of consumption of imported goods in the country, and has urged Nigerian consumers to change their mindset and patronise locally-produced goods, especially in the agricultural sector, to boost revenue and job creation.
Special Adviser to President Muhammadu Buhari on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, disclosed this while speaking at a one-day seminar/exhibition with the theme, “Re-orientation towards ensuring preference and consumption of domestic agro-allied products”, which was organised by Zakclair Investment Limited.
Adesina, who was represented by the Special Assistant to the President on New Media, Tolu Ogunlesi, said more Nigerians would be financially empowered when people patronise locally manufactured goods.
He explained that no nation could truly develop its production capacity when its economy was based on imported products.
The presidential spokesperson observed that most developed nations of the world were those whose economies were based on the local production of goods.
He said the unbridled importation of products was weighing heavily on the country’s foreign exchange reserve.
“We must also be willing to innovate with our local products in ways that can get us a wider audience.
“Instead of expending scarce resources and importing goods and services, we can channel them to create jobs for people. We need to believe more in the value of what is indigenous to us, as a people.
“When we consume locally made products, there will be less pressure on our foreign exchange. In the same breath, the value addition that happens locally means jobs.
“The economic value of consuming locally made goods is in all the jobs that will be created.
“I think that with the kind of market that we have in Nigeria, 200 million people, you can see there is a lot that we can do with domestic products”, Adesuna said.
Delivering the keynote address, the Executive Secretary of the Agricultural Research Council of Nigeria, Prof. Garba Sharabutu, urged stakeholders to stop paying lip service to the efforts to drive the consumption of made-in-Nigeria products, saying “we need to take it from words to action”.
Earlier, the CEO of Zakclair Investment Ltd, Adelabu Abdulrazak, explained that with the country’s ailing economy, there was a need to direct attention to preference and consumption of locally-made products.
“Consequently, we believe there is a need for a discourse in this aspect of our national life with the aim to infuse patriotism, encourage policies that tackle this lifestyle, reorientate our citizens and massively stimulate the growth of our economy,” he said.
Commission Extends Deadline For Digital Money Operators’ Registration
The Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (FCCPC) has announced the extension of deadline for registration of online money lenders and operators, otherwise known as Digital Money Lenders (DML).
Making the registration extension known in a statement that was made available to The Tide at the weekend, the FCCPC Chief Executive Officer, Babatunde Irukera, said the process has been extended to March 27, 2023.
The FCCPC boss stated that the extra time was to ensure that the registration of DML whose registration was still in process was adequately achieved, and to also prevent significant market disruptions.
It is the third time the commission has postponed the deadline for registration, since it enforced compulsory registration in August 2022.
“On December 6, 2022, in furtherance of the collaboration of the Inter-Agency Joint Task Force, the FCCPC extended the deadline for the registration of DML to January 31, 2023.
“This was to ensure the registration of DMLs whose registration was still in process and to prevent significant market disruptions.
“The Commission noted, however, that several DMLs have not yet provided all relevant documentation to complete their registration process.
“To this end, the Commission is further extending the registration deadline to Monday, March 27, 2023″, The statement read in part.
The FCCPC recently released a limited interim regulatory and registration framework for digital lending in order to curb unethical interest rates, violation of consumer privacy, and other unethical lending practices perpetrated by unchecked digital lenders in the country.
By: Corlins Walter
Manager Clarifies PH Airlines Building Occupancy Issues
The Port Harcourt Airport Manager, Mr Felix Akinbinu, has given reasons for the delay by airlines operating at the Port Harcourt International Airport, Omagwa, in occupying the newly commissioned Airport Building.
Noting that airlines still operate from the Terminal building, he said the nature of business operations of airlines is such that makes them operate from the terminal building in order to meet the boarding requirements for passengers.
Akinbinu, who disclosed this while interacting with aviation correspondents, stated that the newly commissioned airlines building is not just for airlines alone.
He said it’s office space for any group or individuals to use, though it bears the name, “Airline Building”.
According to him, the airlines will still operate from the terminal building because the newly commissioned airlines building is to provide additional office space for airlines to accommodate their other activities and staff.
“To be frank with you, what we have in the new airlines building is just eight office space accommodation, and it is not only for airlines, it is open to everyone or group that need an office space.
“It is not that we are ordering the airlines to leave the terminal building, not at all, because they are to operate at the terminal building for the ease of their business and passengers facilitation.
“It is also not an issue of disobedience on their side for still operating at the terminal building. All they will do is to acquire additional office space for their staff and operations”, Akinbinu said.
The Tide’s check earlier showed that the new airlines building is sited at a distance place from the terminal building, which makes it difficult for airlines to easily access, considering their style of business operations.
Some officials of airlines The Tide interacted with stated that they will not operate from the new airlines building because it was sited across the airport major road, distant from the terminal.
They, therefore, urged the airport management to consider the nature of their operations, and make alternative for them.
It would be recalled that the Managing Director, Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), Salisu Yadudu, represented by the Director of Operations, Murktar Munye, had at the commissioning ceremony of the airlines building, early December last year, directed the airport manager to ensure that airlines occupy the building immediately.
This, he said, was to decongest the terminal building. But the building is yet to be occupied.
By: Corlins Walter
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