Exceptions cancel at airport toll gates

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The President, Vice President and other top government officials will henceforth pay access fees at all federal airports.

The Ministry of Aviation and Aerospace Management has set a target of N10 billion in revenue from ticket sales.

Therefore, there will no longer be any payment exceptions.

This was part of decisions taken during a two-day meeting of the Federal Executive Council (FEC), which ended yesterday.

It was presided over by President Bola Ahmed Tinubu at the State House, Abuja.

Aviation Minister Festus Keyamo (SAN) told reporters his ministry first wanted to exclude President Tinubu and Vice President Kashim Shettima from the tolls, but the President overruled him.

The minister said the approval was based on a memorandum detailing the financial losses from these exemptions.

According to him, the Federal Government had been losing 82 per cent of N10 billion in revenue that ought to accrue from airport tollgates.

He noted that because of the exemption, the larger part of the actual projected revenue has been lost.

Keyamo said the Council directed the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) to send out a service-wide circular on the cancellation of the exemption, adding that his ministry would follow up on that circular.

Asked about specifics of projected income from the tollgates, he said: “How much are we expecting? It runs into billions. We are looking at raising at least N10 billion annually. This is a very big one for us. And we will market the e-tags so that VIPS will buy into it.

“No more exemption. When we came to the office, we met a tradition on the ground where at the end of the year, all manners of VIPs would approach us for what they call complimentary e-tags or complimentary stickers. They don’t pay the access fees at airports.

“They don’t pay for parking, they don’t pay for essential services at airports, and they are VIPs. I said not under my watch. It will not happen.

“If this tradition has been existing for years, I will not allow it to happen. Because it is inconceivable that in our country it is the VIPs who don’t pay for services but the poor pay.

“The VIPs were supposed to have money to pay for services, but they compel poor men to pay for services and I said no.

“So, I got my team together. I said we need the backing of the Council to compel everybody.

“Guess what? Our memo exempted the President and the Vice President and the President overruled me and said he and the Vice President will pay. He said everybody must pay.

“Let me give you the shocking statistics. The negative figure that we get at the end of the day from the complimentary e-tags is 82 per cent in the negative.

“In other words, where we are supposed to have 100 per cent from these e-tags that we print, it is only 18 per cent that we now end up selling. That is how bad it is.

“So, imagine the loss in my sector and I ask myself which other sector would I go to that they give me anything free?

“I’ll give another example. In one of the access gates, based on the count of the barrier going up and down, we are supposed to be making N250 or N260 million monthly.

“Because of exemptions, the return is less than N100 million every month. That also, of course, breeds corruption because now you cannot track.

“You cannot have the audit trail of those free tags that our people give out.

“So, it was approved that the SGF should send a system-wide circular to the judiciary, legislature, executive, and military high command.

“They can pay yearly. Buy the yearly tags for all your officers. You have the money. Pay us, so that we can improve our services at the airport.”

The minister said the Council approved a memorandum for the procurement of aircraft recovery equipment at N4.2 billion.

“We got approval for that as part of ICAO’s requirements in the sum of N4.2 billion and a fraction, inclusive of VAT, with a completion period of 12 months,” he said.

Why Cybercrime levy was suspended, by minister

Also yesterday, Minister of Information and National Orientation, Muhammed Idris, said the Cybercrime levy was suspended for review.

“The cybersecurity levy has been suspended. It is undergoing review. It has been put on hold for now,” he said.

This new levy, set at 0.5 per cent, was to apply to some electronic transactions in line with Cybercrime (Prohibition, Prevention, etc.) (Amendment) Act 2024 but drew outrage from Nigerians.

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