The Manufacturers Association of Nigeria has said its members would continue operations as well as scale up the production of essential commodities as the Coronavirus pandemic begins to take a toll on the nation's economy.
Mansur Ahmed, the MAN president, in a statement Wednesday urged the government to ensure that manufacturers have reasonable access to industrial supplies and inputs such as gas, electricity supply, fuel and other essential infrastructure needs.
"Given the fundamental role manufacturers will be playing at a time like this, they have been encouraged to sustain ongoing operations to avoid reduction or shut down of production activities; and scale up their production especially of essential commodities such pharmaceuticals, consumables, sanitary and hygiene products needed to curtail the spread of the virus (COVID-19)," Mr Ahmed said.
Nigeria's confirmed coronavirus cases <a target="_blank" href="https://www.premiumtimesng.com/news/headlines/383737-coronavirus-nigerias-confirmed-cases-rise-to-46.html">reached 46</a> on Wednesday as various states adopt different measures in an attempt to curb the spread of the virus.
States such as <a target="_blank" href="https://www.premiumtimesng.com/regional/ssouth-east/382797-coronavirus-anambra-shuts-down-schools.html">Anambra</a>, <a target="_blank" href="https://www.premiumtimesng.com/regional/ssouth-west/383739-coronavirus-ondo-orders-closure-of-markets.html">Ondo</a>, <a target="_blank" href="https://www.premiumtimesng.com/regional/north-central/383832-coronavirus-kogi-closes-all-entry-points-ban-motorcycle-operation.html">Kogi</a>, <a target="_blank" href="https://www.premiumtimesng.com/regional/north-central/383909-coronavirus-kwara-govt-bans-commercial-transportation-orders-closure-of-markets.html">Kwara</a>, <a target="_blank" href="https://www.premiumtimesng.com/news/top-news/383659-just-in-lagos-orders-closure-of-all-non-essential-markets-stores.html">Lagos</a>, and <a target="_blank" href="https://www.premiumtimesng.com/regional/ssouth-east/383749-coronavirus-enugu-orders-civil-servants-to-work-from-home.html">Enugu</a> have ordered the shutdown of schools, markets, motor parks among others.
On Wednesday, Nigerian scientists urged the federal government to <a target="_blank" href="https://www.premiumtimesng.com/news/headlines/383836-coronavirus-lock-down-nigeria-now-scientists-urge-fg.html">order a lockdown</a> of the country to prevent the further spread of the virus.
In its statement, MAN lauded the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) for not resting on their oars through the drafting of the different protocols for safety disseminated to the general public.
The association asked that the financial support offered by the Central Bank of Nigeria be extended to the supply of Forex to the manufacturing sector at pre-COVID-19 rates.
They further asked the CBN to consider directing commercial banks to freeze interest charges in the event of a lockdown.
"In the case of an eventual lockdown, government should consider the introduction of fiscal measures such as waivers on import duties on Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients (APIs), and other essential products; extend tax holiday to companies on corporate tax, and waive the Value Added Tax (VAT), and reduce the burden of personal income tax as a way of increasing the disposable income of an average Nigerian worker.
"Government should ensure that all regulatory agencies such as Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Nigeria Ports Authority (NPA), Standards Organizations of Nigeria (SON), National Agency for Food and Drugs Administration and Control (NAFDAC) should treat all requests from Manufacturers expeditiously and with the required sensitivity to the prevailing situation."
The group also urged the government to ensure its agencies "do not act contrary to its directive of permitting essential manufacturing sectors to operate."
'Ultimately, the association advises safety in all lines of operation. Therefore, manufacturers have been urged to make it a point of duty to assure their employees, vendors, customers and all relevant stakeholders of best health practices," Mr Ahmed said.
"As manufacturers adhere to safety rules and keeping the economy running, it is expedient that government provide safety nets for these group of its public to ensure seamless operations."