Seized goods in Container
Sixty-six per cent of government revenue in the beverage, wine and spirit category has been lost due to smuggling, Executive Secretary, Association of Food, Beverages, and Tobacco Employers, Mr. Fatai Odesile, has stated.
Speaking on behalf of the Distillers and Blenders Association, a sub-group of the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), at a media briefing in Lagos, Odesile called on government and other relevant agencies to assist in the fight against illegal importation of foreign brands of alcoholic beverages, wines and spirit.
He said recently, there has been massive importation of wines and spirits of different hues and specifications into the country from different regions, which came in without being registered with relevant regulatory government agencies.
He added that most of goods were either smuggled in active connivance with some people or taxes were evaded on them, thereby leading to cheaper prices at which the products are being sold.
Also speaking at the media parley, President of Nigeria Labour Congress, who was represented by its Lagos State Chairman, Mr. Idowu Adelakun, said the call has become necessary so as to avert a looming crisis where a greater percentage of the workforce may be laid off if such illegalities are not quickly nipped in the bud.
He said the activities of these unknown elements that had flooded the markets with their products have constituted a threat to the growth of local industry while urging the Federal government to step in to avert imminent collapse and eventual loss of jobs as witnessed in the past.
Commenting on the illegality being perpetrated by these foreign nationals, another member of the union, Imori Akpan said most of the goods being smuggled into the market were substandard as compared to what obtains in their markets. He noted that time has come for government to strengthen its border to protect against indiscriminate dumping of goods that could have greater health implications, emphasising that these nationals now see Nigeria as a new dumping ground.
He said” We have contributed to the growth of GDP. We have done this through payments of our taxes and other statutory fees. We cannot fold our arms and see the industry collapse in our very eyes. That is why we are calling on the support of government to help us checkmate the threats being posed by the illegal influx of all kinds of alcoholic beverage. In recent time, our market has become a dumping ground leading to goods being smuggled on a daily basis. These activities have become an ominous sign for our industry”.
Akpan added that government is likely to be at the receiving end if such activities are left unchecked as revenue accrued to it through taxes and import duties may be lost. However, he said the appeal was not informed by its inability to compete, stating that their activities had made the playing field to be unfair.
Corroborating the earlier speaker, President of the Union, Alhaji Lateef Oyelekan, advised government to ensure a total clampdown on the activities of the smugglers and their local collaborators to avoid putting the life of the citizenry at great risk based on the suspect nature of the quality. He however called for concerted effort by all the stakeholders in fighting the looming trend.
He said; “We are calling on all stakeholders to stop the importation of illegal products. This has not allowed us to compete favourably. It must be stated that we are not afraid of competition. What we are saying is that there should be a level playing field such that everybody involved in this business go through the normal processes by paying all necessary charges.”
He revealed that most of the products being sold by this crop of people do not have long lifespan and as such putting the lives of Nigerians in danger. He also asked government to move against all ethanol depots that are springing up while also restricting its sales to manufacturers of trademark owners.