Senate panel canvasses soft loans, tax cuts for airline operators

Senator Ben Murray-Bruce at the National Assembly on Tuesday, September 20. 2016. PHOTO: TWITTER/NIGERIAN SENATE

Senator Ben Murray-Bruce at the National Assembly on Tuesday, September 20. 2016. PHOTO: TWITTER/NIGERIAN SENATE

To ease their financial difficulties, the Senate Committee on Privatisation has urged the Federal Government to consider soft loans and tax cuts for operators of domestic airlines.

The move, according to the panel, will increase their survival and enhance the economy.

Besides, the lawmakers also advised government to consider the option of wet-leasing some of the 10 aircraft on the presidential fleet as part of cost-saving measures.

The operators had alleged multiple taxation as a bane, just as it was estimated that the seven domestic airlines in the country were owing government N40 billion.

Chairman of the committee, Senator Ben Murray-Bruce, at the aviation stakeholders’ conference in Lagos at the weekend, noted that the sector was already in a critical state and thus required urgent attention.

He said with airlines closing down, the ability to move from one part of the country to another on short notice was seriously being impeded.

“If all our airlines close or move to neighbouring countries, even among those in the arm of government, not all those officials can fly in a presidential jet. Even if government officials get private jets, what about their families and friends?

“The alarming rate airlines are either failing or leaving Nigeria must be halted. If people cannot move from point A to B quickly, businesses will suffer, economy will not improve and the recession will last longer.

“This is an emergency. I urge the government to take firm action to save our aviation industry. Help them with soft loans and reduce their taxes,” he pleaded.

Chairman, Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON), Nogie Meggison, had bemoaned the perennial system of multiple taxation and alleged that debts of airlines were “phantom” and counter-productive to investors.



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