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Captain Nogie Meggison, AON

Involve entrepreneurs, policy experts before signing AfCFTA; AON tells FG

THE Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON) has recommended that the Federal Government needs to commence immediate consultations with entrepreneurs and experts on trade policies to review the SAATM/AfCFTA impact on the Nigerian economy and finding a way that will take into consideration the interests of Nigerian businesses in order for them to benefit significantly.

This is just as the airlines have called on the Federal Government to immediately conduct an Impact Assessment of the SAATM/AfCFTA on domestic business environment.

Since the signing of the Single African Air Transport Market (SAATM) by African Heads of States in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on January 28, 2018, the AON have continuously canvassed for government to pause and come up with a clear policy on how the country as a whole can maximize the potentials of the SAATM despite how laudable the idea.

AON Chairman, Capt. Nogie Meggison made these recent recommendations on the heels of governments decision to sign the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Treaty which is scheduled for inking by African Heads of States on March 21 – 22, 2018 in Kigali, Rwanda.

He explained that just like SAATM, African Passport, Continental financial institutions (Currency & Taxes), the AfCFTA is a flagship project of the African Union Agenda 2063 and is aimed at creating a single continental market for goods and services, with free movement of business persons and investments.

The AON Chairman warned that Nigeria cannot afford to rush into signing of AfCFTA which will give unfettered access into the Nigerian market and is likely to erode the good work Government has so far put in place to diversify the economy and reverse the gains of the present administration in reviving the economy out of recession.

According to Meggison, National Interest must be given priority and protected at all levels in the implementation of SAATM/AfCFTA by putting Nigeria and its youths first.

He said,”An urgent need for government to immediately conduct an Impact Assessment on the domestic business environment and government needs to empower domestic airlines and manufacturers to compete favourably by removing VAT and other Multiple taxes and create a more business friendly environment in line with the government’s policy of Ease of Doing Business.”

The AON boss called for provision of better infrastructure and support services to allow Nigerian businesses compete effectively.

He said,”AON, MAN and other professional bodies should be involved in the formulation of market access, tariffs and international treaties,
agreements, MoUs or any other national decision that has to do with
Nigerian businesses.”

“It is worthy of note that about 80% of the Nigerian GDP is generated from the private sector. To this end therefore, Airlines, Manufacturers and other businesses provide critical socio-economic services to the Nigerian economy and should not be treated as secondary subjects in the implementation of decisions which directly affect their operations and has the potential of strangling them out of existence without due
consultations.”

He further appealed,”While we believe the AU 2063 Agenda for a Single African Market (SAATM/AfCFTA) is a good idea, we humbly appeal to government to pause and reappraise the benefits of the treaties to Nigeria and should come up with a clear policy on how best to take full advantage of the single market agenda by putting Nigeria first and protecting our overall interest rather than rushing to sign treaties and implementing agreements that will reverse the gains of this present administration and jeopardize the future of our
children.”

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