President Muhammadu Buhari Thursday in Port Harcourt, River State, said the Federal Government’s removal of Value Added Tax (VAT) from domestic air travels will reduce air fares, enable speedy movement of more people and spur business activities that will stimulate the economy.
Speaking at the commissioning of the new terminal of Port Harcourt International Airport Omagwa, President Buhari said 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 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,’’ he said.
President Buhari said at the presentation of the 2017 Budget to the National Assembly he 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 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 the state was 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 also said 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, Sen. 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.