The Aviation Safety Round Table Initiative has expressed displeasure over the way the Federal Government is handling the accumulated funds of foreign airlines in the country.
In a statement issued on Friday, the ART said,
“The Aviation Safety Round Table Initiative (ART) is dismayed by the appalling handling of the accumulated foreign airline funds trapped in our banks, due to the non-allocation of forex to these airlines.
“In all Bilateral Air Services Agreement, an Article in the agreement – transfer of earnings – clearly states that each designated airline shall have the right to convert and remit to its country on demand, local revenues in excess of sums locally disbursed. Conversion and remittance shall be permitted without delay in accordance with the prevailing foreign exchange regulations.
“International trade is binded by agreements which are sacrosanct and respected. Nigeria cannot do otherwise if we crave the attention of investors in our industry.
“It’s important to state that foreign airlines sold these tickets at the official IATA rate and cannot be expected to go the parallel market to source, convert and remit as opined in some quarters, the central bank should do the needful as enshrined in the BASA agreements.
“These funds should have been remitted at the official rate on date of Sale immediately the Airlines get clearance after paying all the local obligations including taxes.
“The damage that our action has done to the Nigerian image as an investment-friendly nation is far-reaching, while the citizenry is faced with high fares, reduced capacity and limited travelling options, which will worsen if we continue on this trajectory.
“We found ourselves in this unenviable situation because we lack capacity to compete, which would have reduced the remittance volume.
“The unborn Air Nigeria cannot produce this capacity, irrespective of the funds allocated, but by an aggregated process of developing our industry to produce vibrant flag carriers that will be courted for commercial partnerships which is the purveyor for successful international flight operations.
“We are also of the opinion that to kick start this process, a functional and credible data gathering methodology for the industry is a necessity. We cannot continue to blow hot air without verifiable data.”
Article first published on the Punch Website