The Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) has described the inaugural presidential address of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu on May 29, as a positive development that offered a beacon of hope that better days await the operators of the Nigerian industrial sector.
The Director General of MAN, Mr. Segun Ajayi-Kadir, who reacted to the President Tinubu’s address in a statement that was released yesterday, also enjoined the president to issue a marching order that would hasten the realisation of a unified foreign exchange rate by Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
Ajayi-Kadri said: “It is, therefore, highly commendable, and an assurance of better days ahead, to hear the President saying that his industrial policy will utilise the full range of fiscal measures to promote domestic manufacturing and lessen import dependency.
“For me, this is a positive development. It is an unmistakable indication of a far-sighted strategic choice: One that is borne out of a deep reflection on the current inclement manufacturing environment and the need to stop the drift into inglorious de-industrialisation of the Nigerian economy.
“What is most gratifying is that it came from Mr. President from day one.”
He also stated that Tinubu’s economic direction as contained in the address also resonated very well with the MAN.
According to him, “the issues of multiple and often times punitive taxation; conflicting and contradictory fiscal and monetary policy measures; skewed and poor management of the foreign exchange regime and the long overdue stoppage of the fuel subsidy were addressed in the President’s speech and I believe they resonate with manufacturers in particular and the business community in general.”
“We also expect that, in line with his promise to enable a supportive fiscal policy regime, Mr. President will order a reversal of the unwarranted violation of the government’s three-year excise escalation roadmap on alcoholic beverages and tobacco.
“As we have shown, the latest hike as contained in the 2023 Fiscal Policy Measures is not only going to ruin the affected sectors, it will be counterproductive for government revenue in the near future.
“Our infrastructure has remained inadequate and so the ongoing efforts of the government have to be intensified and this again was mentioned by the newly inaugurated President.”
Ajayi-Kadir also identified some low hanging fruits the president could utilise to drive the economy forward.
These include prevailing on the CBN “to take effective action to give priority to the allocations of foreign exchange to the productive sector, particularly to manufacturers to import raw materials, spares, and machinery that are not locally available.”
Others are a directive to the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) “to admit all qualified applicant companies into the Eligible Customer Scheme (ECS) in order to allow them access to power as stipulated in the Electric Power Sector Reform Act 2005.”
MAN further urged the President to “direct all relevant agencies of government to ensure that the electronic call-up system at ports aimed at redressing the congestion works without fail.
“Revisit the Finance Bill 2022 to ensure it includes the critical inputs of the organised private sector, particularly the jettisoning of the highly objectionable removal of the 10 per cent investment allowance on the acquisition of plants and machinery (in the Company Income Tax Act, Section 32).
“Additionally, to ensure that the imposition of the 0.5 per cent levy on eligible imports from third countries is limited to goods that we have the capacity to produce locally and quite importantly, exclude raw materials that are not locally available.
“The input of the organised private sector on the CEMA bill should also be taken on board before the amendment bill is signed into law.”
It also called on Tinubu to “announce a special policy initiative to address the revival of closed and distressed industries, particularly in the North-east where 60 per cent of our member companies have closed.
“Craft and announce a special policy initiative to leverage diaspora expertise and investment to address evident gaps and help to boost the performance of the economy.”
The MAN also asked for a directive to “ all ministries, departments, and agencies of government to unfailingly comply with Executive Order 003 on the patronage of made-in-Nigeria products. In this regard, there should be strict application of the margin of preference, effective monitoring and periodic evaluation of compliance, and appropriate sanctions meted out to MDAs acting in breach of the executive order.
“Announce a special policy initiative to derisk manufacturing and release adequate funding for the sector through effective funding of special lending windows.”