Although the Federal Government has stepped up its campaign for patronage of locally manufactured goods, the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), has expressed concern over the increasing rate of smuggling, an activity believed to be threatening the competitiveness of the productive sector.
According to MAN, low purchasing power on the part of consumers has also made smuggled and sub-standard products acceptable, thereby inhibiting the growth and contribution of the real sector to national wealth.
Addressing journalists at a media luncheon in Lagos, yesterday, MAN President, Dr. Frank Jacobs, said the Association will sustain its advocacy against the influx of smuggled goods into the country, among other issues.
Speaking on the review of 41 items not valid for official foreign exchange (forex) allocation, Jacobs said some items earlier excluded were restored, adding "we are still exerting pressure on the relevant agencies to ensure that all raw materials that were erroneously included in the exclusion list are restored.
Jacobs explained that out of the 95 HS codes for materials, only 36 has been cleared out of the 41 items excluded from the list by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
MAN also kicked against the apex bank's decision to retain Monetary Policy Rate (MPR) at 14 per cent, saying the decision would only continue to increase interest rates in the country.
In his words: "Banks cannot continue to lend with interest rates on double digits. The industrial sector cannot thrive with such interest rates. We will continue to criticise the decision of the CBN to retain MPR at 14 per cent."
He however said statistics released by the Nigeria Bureau of Statistics (NBS), revealed that the nation's manufacturing sector in 2017 improved against performances in 2016, contributing nine per cent to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
On fuel shortages, he argued that to end the perennial crisis in Nigeria, refineries must be handed over to the private sector, adding that government has no business doing business in the nation.
On Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA), the MAN boss reiterated the Association's decision to sustain advocacy against the signing of the agreement, saying the agreement would only spell doom for Nigeria's manufacturing sector.
"MAN will continue to add to the advocacy issues it will pursue this year. We will ensure greater improvement in the business operating environment, including abolition of multiple taxation and its unorthodox mode of collection by the three tiers of Government. We will also push for the enactment of relevant manufacturing-friendly laws and abrogation of adverse and obsolete business related legislations," he added.