President Muhammadu Buhari has assured manufacturers that his administration would take appropriate measures to ease access to foreign exchange for importation of raw materials and machines that are not available locally.
The promise by the president was a reaction to requests on making the manufacturing sector contribute more to the Nigerian economy. This was disclosed by Buhari during an advocacy visit of the leadership of the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), led by Mansur Ahmed, to the Presidential Villa Abuja, on Wednesday.
According to NAN, the president said the relevant Ministry would revisit their concerns about the increase in excise duties on the identified products and other tariff-related matters.
What President Buhari is saying
Speaking on the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), Buhari said Nigeria would fast track the process of setting up the Designated Competent Authority that will superintend the administration of Rules of Origin and Commission as well as the automation for issuance of electronic Certificate of Origin.
He said that the federal government would ensure the establishment of relevant structured platforms for monitoring and evaluation of the performance of the Ease of Doing Business and improved Government patronage of made in Nigeria products.
He said, ‘‘Our strategic plan to boost manufacturing activities in the country is on course. We will continue to improve the patronage of locally made goods, bridge the gap between skills required by industry and those provided by our tertiary institutions and ensure seamless access to long term finance for our Small and Medium-Scale Enterprises (SMEs).
‘‘We recognize that MAN remains a key stakeholder in this journey and we will continue our engagement with you.’’
Buhari, who said that a private sector-led economy is the way to create jobs in the country, urged the leadership of MAN to continue to encourage manufacturers that government recognizes the resilience of their members and other private sector organisations in promoting a virile manufacturing sector in Nigeria.
He said, “I beseech you to continue to support the Government in our quest to provide the appropriate environment that will attract the necessary investment both domestic and foreign for the upliftment of the nation’s economy.”
He said the government had also provided stimulus packages for the manufacturing sector; improvement in energy management and support for exporters with a view to improving the operating environment for businesses in Nigeria as well as made significant progress in road and rail development despite limited resources.
Going further, the president said, ‘‘These projects are there for all to see. Furthermore, we are vigorously pursuing reforms on ease of doing business and currently putting in place other necessary policy measures and incentives that will guarantee full recovery from the consequences of COVID-19, sustain economic development and further shield the economy from the potential impact of fluctuations in the price of crude oil in the global market.
‘‘I have listened carefully to all the challenges enumerated by the president of MAN and would like to assure you that, like we have done in the recent past, we will give consideration to some of the constraints that are yet to be fully addressed, especially those that align with our policies and programmes for economic recovery and sustainable development.
‘‘Let me assure you that this Administration is fully aware that the survival of Nigeria lies in Agriculture and having a viable domestic manufacturing sector. I must emphasise here that when I say Agriculture, I also refer to Agro-Allied business which is the value-added component in the value chain.
‘‘A strong manufacturing sector creates more jobs and wealth for our people. It will usher in sustainable economic prosperity because we will produce what we consume as a nation and generate foreign exchange by exporting surpluses and by import substitution.’’
What you should know
The manufacturing sector has witnessed stunted growth in the last few years due to the worsening foreign exchange scarcity in the country.
THE Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) had in October, expressed concern over the inability of businesses to access foreign exchange (forex) for the importation of raw materials for production, noting that the forex market is still faced with liquidity challenges.