Auto assemblers have challenged the Bank of Industry and the National Automotive Design and Development Council to give an account of what has happened to the National Automotive Council fund, amounting to N16.91bn, meant to develop the nation’s auto industry.

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The demand for the whereabouts of the NAC fund is part of the highlights of an Auto CEOs Forum held in Abuja as released on Thursday by the organizers.

The total amount was obtained on Thursday from the website of the BoI, the custodian of the money collected as a levy on automobile imports and transactions.

The NAC levy is meant “to create an enabling environment to allow existing assembly plants to grow and attract other OEMs to the country as well as increase local content participation in vehicle assembly.”

The auto assemblers lamented that many of them had been forced to suspend operations due to the lack of funds and patronage, noting that the collapse of the fiscal environment had spelled doom for the auto assembly industry.

BoI is expected to collaborate with the NADDC to intervene in the automobile sector through financial support in the area of production of automotive parts, components, and services.

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“Questions were raised over the whereabouts of the NAC levy which should provide the buffer funds for the smooth operation of local auto assembly plants,” part of the highlights read.

Deputy Managing Director, CFAO Motors, Kunle Jaiyesimi, said at the forum that many assemblers had not been able to access any funds from the BoI even as he bemoaned the difficulty of sourcing foreign exchange for genuine business.

“You can hardly get a four-month supply of forex through the bank in one year. We largely rely on the black market,” he said.
Former acting Director General of the NADDC, Mr. Luqman Mamudu, said the auto assembly industry had collapsed due to the absence of a viable fiscal environment.

He stressed that the local assemblers required major financial support, adding that there was no way they could compete with importers of fully built vehicles.

Mamudu, who was the head at the NADDC when the auto policy was introduced in 2013, said the program was designed with a plan to pump N5bn from the NAC levy into auto finance.

“We approached the West Bank of South Africa; put together N5bn auto finance. I don’t know what has happened to it.”
The fund is expected to be accessed by limited liability companies, and enterprises engaged in the assembly of automobiles, automotive component manufacturers, automotive workshops, and car service centers and make a positive impact on the prices of vehicles by reducing prices.

According to the BoI, this is also to make a positive impact on the economy “by reducing the number of imported vehicles into the country and will also discourage smuggling.

“This sector has an enormous value chain. This would promote the development of SMEs in the production of component parts.”