President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, has assured airline operators that the National Assembly would ensure that the aviation sector was protected and supported.
Lawan said this when executives of the Airline Operators of Nigeria paid him a visit at the National Assembly on Thursday in Abuja.
They were led to the Office of the Senate President by Aviation Minister Hadi Sirika.
Lawan said that for private investors in the country’s aviation industry to survive, government policies must be fine-tuned to ensure their smooth operation.
The Senate President who pledged the support of the National Assembly towards ensuring that airline operators were not squeezed out of business, said the legislature would look into policies affecting the sector while taking into consideration government’s need for enhanced revenue.
“The policies of government at all times should be in tandem to make life better for citizens particularly, and support businesses to grow.
“The aviation industry of course is no exception. Government policies should always be targeted at ensuring this industry prospers.
“I followed the drafting of the FIRS bill particularly, and the aviation sector was missed. We will find out why it was not included.
But I want to assure you that this Senate and, indeed this National Assembly, would do what is necessary to ensure that you are protected and supported,” he said.
Lawan added:“Any exemption that would help this industry to prosper and survive, the National Assembly will stand by that.
“One thing is very important, we are in a very difficult situation in Nigeria. We need revenue but we also need our government to ensure that in the process of getting more revenue, we don’t kill where those revenues will come from.
So we need to strike a very decent balance of encouraging industries to create jobs and employment on one hand, and also getting revenues.
“So, I believe that we should do whatever it takes to ensure that you (aviation industry) survive and also prosper.
“And because the dollar rate is changing and especially going up, maybe you require additional expenditures, and that is why the government should come in because we shouldn’t allow the burden of this exchange rate to kill our businesses.
“I believe that the aviation industry in Nigeria needs some support.”
Earlier, the Vice President of the Airline Operators of Nigeria, Allen Onyema, while lamenting the reintroduction of government duties on imported spare parts for aircraft said that private airlines would have been forced to suspend operations last week due to the high cost.
According to Onyema who also is the Chairman of Air Peace, the return of high duties on imported parts has made it impossible for airlines to undertake clearance of aircraft parts at seaports and cargo sheds, a situation which poses a risk on the safety of fliers.