President Muhammadu Buhari has ordered the removal of Value Added Tax (VAT) from domestic air travels aimed at reducing air fares, enabling speedy movement of more people and spurring business activities that will stimulate the economy.
Speaking today, Thursday in Port Harcourt, River State, at the commissioning of the new terminal of Port Harcourt International Airport Omagwa, the President said that the decision by the Federal Government to remove VAT from domestic air transportation was in line with global best practices of making air transportation affordable, which will subsequently lead to the creation of more jobs by the air transport service value chain.
He said that the removal of VAT will also increase revenue for the government with more traffic at the airports.
The President noted that the increase in national population with consequent surge in air passenger traffic necessitated upgrading and construction of new airports across the country.
“I am very pleased to formally commission the new International Terminal of the Port Harcourt airport, Omagwa, today. This ceremony represents a significant landmark for international air travellers, particularly from the South-South region and the entire country.
“You will recall that after opening the major airport terminals in the country in the late 70s and early 80s, not much was added to increase the passenger handling capacity of these facilities by successive administrations.
“Following the large increase in national population with consequent surge in air passenger traffic, the capacity of the airport terminals became woefully inadequate to cater for the increase in passenger traffic,’’ he added.
The President said decisive actions had to be taken by the Federal Government to ensure that terminals meet minimum international standards for the travelling public.
“The Federal Government responded to a global trend in which aviation became a catalyst for economic growth as a result of massive and speedy movement of persons, goods and services in a safe and secure manner.
“As part of the infrastructure renewal program, the construction of four new international terminals at Abuja, Lagos, Port Harcourt and Kano airports was embarked upon by the Federal Government with a view to modernising the aging airport infrastructure to meet global aviation standards and improved service delivery in tandem with best international practices.”
President Buhari had, at the presentation of the 2017 Budget to the National Assembly, promised to upgrade and develop Nigeria’s transport, power and health infrastructure, and complete a number of stalled infrastructure projects, which includes major airports, roads and power projects, and the completion of the Kaduna–Abuja as well as Itakpe to Warri Railway lines.
The President said that Nigeria, having an advantageous central location within the sub-region with a desire to develop into a regional air transportation hub, must upgrade its facilities to take advantage of its assets.
In his remarks, Rivers State Governor Nyesom Ezenwo Wike said that the state is safe for visitors and investments, commending the Federal Government for its intervention in ensuring a better airport for the people, which will attract more investments.
Wike said that the state government will revamp the road leading to the international terminal for ease of access for the public.
In his remarks, the Minister of State, Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika, said the Federal government injected $461 million into the airport projects to enable construction.
The new terminal of Port Harcourt International Airport Omagwa completely alters the poor rating by Sleep in Airports in 2017, which listed the airport as the third worst in the world.