National Assembly Complex
By Crusoe Osagie
The Committee on Industry of the House of Representatives has harped on the need for manufacturers in the country to raise their level of local content utilisation in producing made in Nigeria goods to reflect government's backward integration policy.
The committee, led by its Chairman, Mohammed Ogoshi Onawo, made the call while embarking on a tour and assessment of some manufacturing outfits in Lagos State, which have benefited from funding from the Bank of Industry (BoI).
According to Onawo, the assessment exercise, which forms part of their oversight function on the activities of BoI, also provides a first-hand opportunity to meet Nigerian manufacturers and assess the challenges facing the sector, in order to go back and map out solutions.
He expressed the need for manufacturers to increase the level of local content inclusion in the factories and plants visited with the ultimate goal of attaining the ultimate goal of 100 per cent local content inclusion.
He noted that Nigeria is blessed with abundant resources and raw materials and urged industrialists in the country to exploit these to the economy’s advantage, adding that the backward integration policy of government would be more fruitful when manufacturers are committed to achieving its objective.
“With more local content inclusion in our factories, we will be able to create more jobs for our people and also reduce the cost of production, which will in turn make made-in-Nigeria- goods more cost effective and globally competitive,” he said.
“We needed to see for ourselves and verify the claims by BoI of what it has been doing to help move the industrial sector to where we want it to be, because as a development bank it has to identify with needy institutions and also we want to better appreciate the challenges of the industrial sector,” he said.
After the tour, the chairman remarked that the committee was impressed with what the beneficiaries were doing with funds received from BoI.
“If we had met a different thing, believe me, in front of the camera we would have accused both BoI and the beneficiaries, there is nobody among the committee members that have gone round these factories today that has not been impressed,” he remarked.
On the issue of recapitalising BoI, he stated that the recapitalisation of a bank, particularly a bank like BoI, would need legislation, and disclosed that a bill to that effect was already in process. As soon as it comes to fruition, he said, the recapitalisation would be implemented.
Some of the manufacturers used the opportunity of the committee’s visit to showcase the progress made, which they claimed was made possible with the funds they received from BoI such as the production of better quality products and the export of some products globally.
They also recounted some of the challenges militating against them to include having to power their plants on gas and diesel, high tariffs on imported raw materials, and inability to enjoy the Export Expansion Grant (EEG) and other government incentives due to bureaucratic bottlenecks.
The industrialists also suggested that more avenues be sought for the use of the EEG such as for the payment of industrial taxes.
In his response the chairman assured them that the committee has met with some of the regulatory bodies of the industrial sector to resolve some of the lingering challenges in the sector.
On the issue of EEG, he said the committee discovered that some unscrupulous individuals had infiltrated the ranks of genuine industrialists and “not until they are flushed out, the regulatory authorities will continue to exercise extreme caution and due diligence in processing of the grants”.
He also advised them to turn in their claims on time, as this would help to reduce the time taken to process and facilitate the incentives. He also expressed the concern of the committee for the welfare of workers employed in the nation’s industries, stressing that they must not be underpaid or their health and safety compromised for the sake of profit-making.
He encouraged manufacturers and industrialists to open up on their challenges, complaints and suggestions, so that the sector can grow; reiterating the committee’s open door policy, attentiveness and responsiveness to every issue it receives.