Food, Beverages Operators Call for Favourable Govt Policies  

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Hamid Ayodeji

Operators in the food and beverage industry, under the auspices of the Association of Food, Beverage and Tobacco Employers (AFBTE) have stressed the need for the federal government to enact and enforce favourable policies that would encourage manufacturers in the country.

The President of the Group and Managing Director, Intercontinental Distillers Limited, Patrick Anegbe, said this in Lagos, during the association’s 49th Annual General Meeting.

He pointed out that multiplicity of taxes and logistics cost was affecting Ease of Doing business in the country.

According to him the association would continue to engage, interact and collaborate with various government agencies that regulate the industry.

This he said, would go a long way to ensure the industry and member-companies understand their expectations, policies and thinking.

Anegbe, explained that the government in most cases through its ministries and agencies introduced some policy measures which affected Ease of doing Business in the country negatively, while some state legislation and regulations threatened the existence of firms in the industry.

He added, “The government now more than ever should enact, implement and enforce policies as well as regulations aimed at encouraging manufacturers and the issues of multiple taxes and cross functional activities of the agencies needs to be addressed as these affects the players in the industry.

“Some state legislations and regulation were of concern in the year. These included Lagos state government’s increase in Land Use Charge, Ogun and Lagos state Water Abstraction charges and multiple tax imposition, among others, and the result is that some members carried-out redundancy exercises while some increased third party provided resources.”

He also explained that the second tranche of the 2017 signed collective agreement on salaries/wages, allowance/fringe benefits for junior and senior employee in the industry, was implemented in October and December respectively.

Anegbe added, ‘‘Our industry’s extant collective agreements on salaries/wages, allowance/fringe benefits with National Union of Food, Beverage and Tobacco Employees(NUFBTE) and Food, Beverage and Tobacco Senior Staff Association(FOBTOB) will be due for renewal this year.”

Meanwhile, the Guest Speaker, Managing Director/CEO, Financial Derivatives Company Limited, Mr. Bismarck Rewane, in his speech said despite Nigeria existing recession, food inflation has been the key driver of inflation.

He continued, as he highlighted some of the factors that could affect disposable and discretionary income in 2019, to include subsidy, exchange rate, oil prices and telecommunication, while reiterating that cost of Logistics and low investment in road has effect in the overall delivery of goods in the country.

The CEO, Financial Derivatives Company Limited, also urged the operators to advocate for effective management of financial system and laws that promote ease of doing business in the country considering the rate of unemployment in the country, which according to him affects sales.

After monthly consecutive drop since January, the Consumer Price Index (CPI), which measures inflation recently rose to 11.37 per cent year-on-year in April, compared to 11.25 per cent in March, according to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS). Inflation had resumed its descent in January when it dropped to 11.37 per cent from 11.44 per cent in December in 2018. The headline index further reduced to 11.31 per cent in February and 11.25 per cent in March before resorting to the upward trajectory in April. According to the latest report by NBS, food inflation stood at 13.70 per cent in April from 13.45 per cent in the preceding month. The CPI figures for April released by the NBS showed that core inflation stood at 9.30 per cent in the month under review compared to 9.50 per cent in March. The report indicated that the 0.12 per cent increase in inflation was as a result of increases recorded in all the key parameters, which determine the headline index for the month under review. While the urban inflation rate increased to 11.70 per cent in April from 11.54 per cent in March, the rural index also rose to 11.08 per cent from 10.99 per cent in the preceding month.

According to the NBS, month-on-month, the urban index rose by 1.00 per cent, up by 0.19 from 0.81 per cent in March while rural inflation also rose by 0.90 per cent in April, up by 0.13 from the 0.77 per cent recorded in March.