Key players emphasize factors hindering NCAA from enforcing economic regulations

Canvas retention of 5 per cent Ticket Sales Charge for NCAA

KEY players across Nigeria’s aviation sector have called for the full autonomy of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) even as they lamented how unnecessary political interference has been hindering the progress of the regulatory body in the area of economic regulations.

The stakeholders while acknowledging how the good performance of the regulatory body had improved safety in the sector in the past years, faulted the present Civil Aviation Act 2006 which, they said, had failed to really empower the agency to enforce the economic regulations of the sector especially on issues bordering on the airlines and organizations in the sector.

The stakeholders premised their positions on the need for the National Assembly to give priority to the autonomy of the NCAA in view of  the move by the lawmakers to commence the review of the country’s Civil Aviation Act 2006 through public hearing in Abuja next week.

Making the NCAA fully autonomous, they said, will strengthen its oversight functions even as the they advised the National Assembly to ensure the retention of the five per cent Ticket Sales Charge/Cargo Sales Charge (TSC/CSC), which was the main source of NCAA revenue generation before some of the agencies were included in the sharing formula.

Calling for the retention of the five per cent charges and if possible improve upon it so that the NCAA could remain strong and virile, an aviation analyst, Mr Ifeanyi Ogochukwu described the strengthening of economic regulation of NCAA as key to the growth of the sector in Nigeria.

Ogochukwu, a Licensed Air Traffic Safety Electronics Specialist, in an interview with some journalists, said that the regulatory agency should be empowered more to effectively carry out oversight functions of the entire industry, most importantly the charter operators.

His words: “The economic regulation is key for the NCAA to continue to discharge its duties in the sector. The NCAA must have the authority to enforce and implement compliance of economic regulation of the industry. It is obvious that most of the airlines don’t have a bigger plan, people have money, they go into the business and start running an airline without structure, business plan and of course, it is bound to fail.

Also, the NCAA should have more power to regulate charter services in the Act. A lot of people in government are using charter services to do some shady business in the industry. NCAA should have the regulatory authority to effectively regulate the charter services.

“NCAA should be empowered to carry our economic regulation of the agencies apart from the airlines, ground handlers and other organisations in the sector. The NCAA is not really enforcing compliance in these agencies, but the new bill before the National Assembly should address this.”

Still on the five per cent TSC/CSC collected on behalf of the other agencies by NCAA, Ogochukwu added that the charges should be retained by the National Assembly in the impending public hearing by the National Assembly, stressing that training and retraining of technical staff in the agency was paramount.

“It is very essential and critical for the NCAA to be autonomous. It should not be autonomous on paper. The NCAA should be able to call the minister’s bluff and tell him, sorry on some issues based on its Act. A fully autonomous NCAA can perform its functions without interference even from the presidency. It is only then that the industry will be stronger and be more respected. An aspect of the Act should say that In case of political interference and anything happens, the minister will be held liable. It should be there by law. Once this is done, it will be absolutely impossible for the minister to interfere because he knows once he does that, it is a criminal offence and can be held liable.”

Equally, a director at the Centre for International Advanced and Professional Studies (CIAPS), Professor Anthony Kila has described NCAA as a critical agency in the sector, hence, should be empowered to discharge its duties without interference.

Kila while making case for a new NCAA that is customer-centric, flexible and the one that works in harmony with airlines and other organisations in the sector, declared: “For the economic regulation, the essence of this is to make sure that customers are not stranded, no matter who runs the

airlines. The reason they should be sound economically and safe technically

is to make sure our sky is safe.

“Therefore, a good economic regulation should not be the one that will make life unnecessarily difficult, but work with them to ensure that it is sustained. That means you have to look at the cost of insurance for airlines, regime of paying for landing and parking for airlines.

“Overall, the new NCAA should be passenger-centric. If anyone can understand that the reason they are on that table to discuss, deliberate and consult is purely to make life easier, safer and more reliable for the passengers. That is the way we can get there.”

Like Ogochukwu, Kila canvassed the retention of the five per cent TSC/CSC for the agency and others in the sector, stressing that they required revenues to sustain safety in the system.

 

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