The Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) has urged the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to reconsider its decision to exclude access to foreign exchange (forex) for the importation of all forms of textile materials from various segments of the forex under its regulation.
According to the LCCI, the move would have grave implication on over 500,000 jobs provided by the industry.
Acknowledging that the N5 trillion worth industry was one of the fastest growing in the economy and has created opportunities for many young Nigerians to express their creativity and innovation, the Chamber in a statement signed by its Director General, Muda Yusuf, noted that the policy would put investments in the sector at risk.
“Trading in textiles is also a major economic activity in the country, both in the northern and southern part of the country. It is a market that responds to changing tastes and fashion trends in the country and beyond.
“Hundreds of thousands of women and men make a living in the marketing of textiles. The policy makers cannot afford to ignore this segment of economic players.
“The traders are the bridge between the producers and the consumers. It is therefore very important for policy makers to take into account the full ramifications of the consequences of policies and collateral outcomes.
“Today, Nigeria is clearly the leader in Africa as far as the fashion industry is concerned. Currently the range of fabrics produced by the Nigerian textile industry cannot support the fashion industry in terms of the quantity and quality. This vibrant industry should not be sacrificed on the altar of textile industry regeneration,” it argued.
The LCCI suggested a strategic approach to industrialisation with a view to strengthening the capacity of domestic industries, enhance their competitiveness, and reduce their import dependence as espoused in the Nigeria Industrial Revolution Plan (NIRP).
It added that “The power issue needs to be addressed. It is almost impossible to achieve rapid industrialisation without resolving the issue of power and the deficit in key infrastructures. Textile production is energy intensive. This is a high energy cost environment and it is very difficult for any energy intensive sector to survive.
“The textile industry has been a beneficiary of several fiscal incentives and protectionist measures over the years, yet it has remained in stagnation.
“Some of them have even gone into receivership as they could not repay their loans. The lesson is that we should deal with the fundamental issues of production competitiveness in our economy.
“The textile industry needs to be saved from the excruciating burden of high operating and production cost. Meanwhile, and in the spirit of the executive order of the President, all uniforms of military and paramilitary institutions should be made from Nigeria produced textiles. This is a low hanging fruit that could be explored while the issue of high production cost is being addressed.”