FG Steps up Policies, Initiatives to Address Real Sector Challenges

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Crusoe Osagie

The federal government has stated its commitment to policies, initiatives and programmes to address the challenges facing manufacturers in the country.

The Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Dr. Okechukwu Enelamah, explained that such initiatives include the implementation of the Nigeria Industrial Revolution Plan (NIRP), National Enterprise Development Programme (NEDEP), harmonisation of quality infrastructure and certification, reforms in the power sector, review of the trade, industrial and investment policies.

According to him, the ministry is almost through with the review of the Export Expansion Grant (EEG) and ensuring an improvement on ease of doing business, maintaining these policies are geared towards stimulation socio-economic development in the country.

Enelamah who was represented by an acting Director in the ministry, Mr. Francis Alaneme, during the 45th annual general meeting of the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), Apapa branch in Lagos, tagged “Economic recession and the future of manufacturing in Nigeria” said the government is not unmindful of the challenges facing the manufacturing sector, saying that the present administration fully understands the role of manufacturing in economic development.

“More than ever before, government is committed to the wellbeing of the sector because it is the most viable option towards our economic renaissance as a nation. In this regards therefore, the focus of government is to build an industrialised economy that is strongly based on locally available resources,” he said.

He added that success of initiatives geared towards economic development cannot be achieved without the support and commitment of the Organised Private Sector (OPS), pointing out the need for all and sundry to look inward and harvest locally resources in order to consolidate its effort to deliver on the change agenda of the federal government anchored on economic diversification.

Also speaking at the event, the president, MAN, Dr. Frank Jacobs, said the sector is passing through difficult times and would require manufacturers to be creative to remain in business.
He advised manufacturers to key into the resource-based industrialisation policy the federal government has adopted, pointing out that the policy will help to reduce the demand for forex to import essential raw materials for production which he said has been a major challenge in recent times.
He said the resource based industrialisation policy which involves the utilization of the nation’s abundant natural resources in producing products that the country needs would not come without a cost, urging manufacturers to retool existing technologies and production processes.
He pointed out that government has a lot to do to make the new orientation of a resource-based industrialisation policy successful, advising that government should create attractive incentives for investors who would engage in the processing of the abundant agricultural and mineral resources from primary produce to secondary or intermediate products.

“This would go a long way in attracting potential and current manufacturers into the use of local raw material inputs. In the meantime, government has to look for viable options of making forex available for manufacturers as we must remain in production,” he said.

The chairman, MAN Apapa branch, Mr. Babatunde Odunayo, said the proposal of federal government to borrow $US30 billion from China for infrstaructural development is a welcome idea, saying the African Development Bank (AfDB) loan and the Euro 4 billion Eurobond will help to address the nation’s infrastructural deficits.

He said the Chinese is laudable, but advised that the federal government should negotiate to acquire robust and enduring technologies at economic prices, saying that the test for enduring technologies and strength of materials may include the engagement of well-tested quality engineers in the respective fields.

He however added that manufacturers observed that these borrowings are unlikely to influence the country’s forex supply pool, stressing that despite the huge quantum, no appreciation in the value of the naira is likely to be seen through these project-tied borrowings.

“If we acquire robust and enduring technology that is well installed and implemented, there is no doubt that Nigeria will gain some of the much needed infrastructure, but such project-tied borrowings favour the economy of the lender-countries but may add little to the relief our forex market, nor of the current economic recession,” he added.