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Market Digest Nigeria

Economy

Row over N27 billion aviation intervention fund

The proposed N27 billion intervention fund earmarked for the aviation sector is causing a row in the industry.

While stakeholders expressed displeasure over the release of only N5 billion out of the N27 billion, some operating carriers complained of being left out of the disbursement. Following complaints, the House of Representatives Committee on Aviation has pledged to look into the matter.

The Federal Government earlier shared the sum of N4 billion bailout funds among about 18 scheduled and non-scheduled local carriers, to cushion the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. Aviation service providers got N1 billion.

The N5 billion was, however, a far cry from the N27 billion earlier proposed for the sector. The latter that got proposed to some of the operators was to support airlines and also fast-track the establishment of a private sector-driven national carrier.

Though N5 billion has thus far been released, some airlines like Aero Contractors, Ibom Air, West Link, TAL Helicopters, and Aircraft Maintenance Organisations (AMOs) among others complained of missing out on the largesse.

Chief Executive Officer of West Link, Capt. Ibrahim Mshelia, alleged that a lot were shrouded in mystery as regards the bailout fund and its disbursement.

Mshelia said: “I don’t know what is going on. I have not received it. Some people have received it. My office submitted the necessary documents. I am a member of Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON). They said we should submit our account and other details to the ministry of aviation for the collection of palliative. We wrote to the minister directly and alerted the committee, which was received.

“I know the government has given us money and I heard some people have not received it. It is obvious the ministry just handpicked those they wanted. They don’t want to give. It appears that we are less in number that didn’t receive. A few of us were targeted. Whatever reason, I don’t know. Nobody has told me why I have not received or when I will receive it,” he said.

CEO of Tropical Arctic Logistics (TAL) Helicopter Company, Femi Adeniji, expressed similar concern.

“I have tried. I have called the Federal Ministry of Aviation. I have four helicopters that I operate. They asked us to send account numbers, which we did. Even up to last Friday, I still called them to find out what was going on. Unfortunately, I was in the US when my company’s name was published as among those who will receive the palliative, but we have not gotten anything up until now.

Chairman, House of Representatives Committee on Aviation, Nnolim Nnaji, yesterday said that the lawmakers had resolved to demand from the Ministry of Aviation the detailed disbursement of the intervention fund.

Nnaji said the essence is not to witch hunt anybody but to clear every doubt over the disbursements. “We want to know the detailed disbursements, airline by airline, the parastatals under the ministry and other organizations,” he said.

He noted that the committee was quite aware of the challenges facing the industry due to the COVID-19 impact and the genuine concerns expressed by the Minister of Aviation on the need for the Federal Government’s palliative to the industry.

Nnaji assured that though the House had already adjourned for the Easter holidays, the committee would cut short its break to look into the matter because of the critical role of aviation in the overall economy of the country.

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