Minimum Wage:Manufacturers Seek Reversal Of Hike In Electricity Tariff

Mohammed Shosanya

The Manufacturers Association of Nigeria,MAN,is seeking reversal of increase in electricity tariffs or only 100% increase in electricity tariff for minimum of 20 hours of supply.

This,it said,will go a long way in onboarding the private sector in the new agreement on the minimum wage announced by the Federal Government recently.

Its Director -General,Segun Ajayi-Kadir,who said this in a statement,also emphasized the need for SMEs and MSMEs to be exempted from compliance due to their incapacity and prevailing operational challenges.

According to him,there should be Central Bank of Nigeria’s redemptions of all validly transacted outstanding forex forwards for companies in the productive sector.

He said there should be duty exemption on imported conversion kits and government subsidy on procurement of same,and a freeze on introduction of new taxes on businesses for the next five years

He reasoned that there should be fixed rate of N800 for the assessment of import duty on all production inputs,and a revisit of the recent Financial Reporting Council regulation to curtail its application to private businesses.

He also advocated discontinuation of the price verification portal as it is inimical to the smooth operation of businesses and the basis for setting it up no longer exist.

Interest Rate Hike Will Kill Nigeria’s Manufacturing Sector-Dangote

Mohammed Shosanya

Chairman of the Dangote Group, Aliko Dangote, has faulted the hike of interest rate to almost 30 per cent by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

He spoke at the Banquet Hall of the State House, Abuja, during the opening session of a three-day summit organised by the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), on Tuesday.

He said with the present interest rate regime, it will be difficult to create jobs,adding that it would also be tough for the manufacturing industry to grow and compete favorably.

“Nobody can create jobs with an interest rate of 30%. No growth will happen”,he said.

Dangote,who advocated the need for new policies that will protect domestic industries,also called on the government to protect existing businesses in the country, especially manufacturers, by providing an enabling environment for them to thrive.

He said:“We must look to leading countries in the West and the East who are actively protecting their domestic industries.”

He further likened an import-dependence to poverty importation.

He added:“Import dependence is equivalent to importing poverty and exporting jobs. No power, no growth, no prosperity. Similarly, no affordable financing, no growth, no prosperity. There is no industrialization without protection Ignoring these facts, is what gives rise to insecurity, banditry, kidnapping and abject poverty”.

SON Approves 80 Standards For CNG Vehicles

Mohammed Shosanya

The Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON), has released 80 approved standards for Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) for road vehicles and related appliances to the Presidential Compressed Natural Gas Initiative(PCNGI).

This was conveyed in a statement on Monday issued by Mrs. Foluso Bolaji, Director, Public Relations in SON.

The statement explained that the development marked the beginning of the journey towards safer, more reliable, cheaper, environmentally sustainable, and most importantly alternative fuel utilisation across Nigeria for road vehicles and other CNG-related appliances.

Bolaji said that SON’s commitment to excellence and innovation in line with international best practices has culminated in developing and approving these standards, representing a significant milestone in the efforts to promote safety and quality in the energy sector.

According to her, “Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) is a clean and efficient alternative to traditional fuels, with applications ranging from transportation to industrial processes.

“However, its safe and effective utilisation requires adherence to rigorous standards that address production, storage, transportation and utilisation.

She further noted that the Presidential CNG Initiative (PCNGI) is a component of the palliative intervention of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s administration and one of the many steps the president has taken to ensure every Nigerian enjoys his Renewed Hope Agenda.

She said: “PCNGI was inaugurated and quickly set up a committee comprising relevant regulatory agencies such as, the National Mid-Stream Down-stream Petroleum Regulatory Authority (NMDPRA), Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON), Nigerian Institute of Transport Technology (NITT), National Automotive Design and Development Council (NADDC), Ministry of Finance Incorporation (MOFI) and other key stakeholders.

“Every regulatory agency was given responsibility within its framework and tasked to quickly deliver hope to Nigerians by ensuring that Nigeria is ready to include CNG as an alternative fuel for vehicle propulsion.

“In furtherance to the above, the Standards Organisation of Nigeria developed Eighty (80) Standards and Guidelines for CNG road vehicles and related appliances that the Honourable Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Dr. Doris Nkiruka Uzoka-Anite approved.

“The Eighty (80) standards encompass a wide range of technical specifications and requirements, including:CNG Conversion kit, Standards for electrical connections and vehicle Diagnostics, Standards for Road-worthiness and Vehicle safety,
Standards for CNG storage Vessels, Standards for CNG refueling Stations, and Guideline for installation of specific components to support the use of compressed natural gas (CNG) for Vehicle propulsion.

“The development of these standards was a collaborative effort, bringing together industry experts, regulators, and stakeholders from across the country.”

Bolaji explained that adhering to these standards offers numerous benefits, such as enhanced safety for consumers, workers, and the environment; improved reliability and efficiency in CNG operations;
facilitated interoperability and compatibility within the CNG ecosystem;increased confidence among consumers, investors, and policymakers.

She implored all stakeholders to embrace them wholeheartedly and to prioritise their effective implementation, adding that “By doing so, we can assure that the utilisation of CNG meets the highest standards of safety, quality and environmental sustainability and will provide the best alternative for fuel utilisation.”

CPPE Seeks Review Of Expatriate Employment Policy

Mohammed Shosanya

The Centre For The Promotion of Private Enterprise,has advocated the need for the Federal Government to review to review of Expatriate Employment Level it introduced to promote the localization of skills and economic growth in the country.

The Centre also advised the government to review the policy and undertake broader consultation to fine tune the policy to ensure that the country does not hurt genuine investors in the country.

Dr.Muda Yussuf,the Chief Executive Officer,said in a statement that it was it also important for the country to worry about the implications of possible diplomatic reciprocity, especially for our diaspora community.

Lamenting the the time line for compliance of the policy is too short,Yussuf maintained that for such a major policy shift, companies needed to be given minimum of six months.

He added:”This would be very disruptive for their businesses, plans and projections. Some of the companies affected are major investors that have investment billions of dollars and have been in Nigeria for decades. This administration, being an investment friendly regime, should give companies more time.

“The country needs more direct investors than portfolio investors at this time. But ironically, both foreign direct investors and domestic direct investors would be more negatively impacted than portfolio investors. The economy needs more investors in the real economy – oil and gas, manufacturing, infrastructure, mining, ICT, Healthcare – all of which require varying skills and competencies.

“The truth is that major Foreign Direct Investments will typically come some critical staff to oversee their investments. It is imperative to give some consideration to this class of investors, given the scale of their investments which could be in billions of dollars.

“The challenge of influx of foreigners, especially the unskilled ones are more pronounced in some sectors than others. Vulnerable sectors include construction, distributive trade, hospitality and logistics. The policy should be targeted at these more vulnerable sectors”.

He said,the policy may trigger reciprocal actions from other countries and this may affect Nigerians in diaspora.

He also said,there are currently over 17 million Nigerians in various countries around the world doing well in various fields,adding that the country has the highest diaspora remittances on the continent, generally in excess of $20 billion.

Nigeria has the largest diaspora population in Africa,he said,stressing that all of these could be at risk as a result of this policy

He added:”If the reciprocity policy is activated in any of their host countries, the effect on our diaspora citizens will be very devastating. Nigeria occupies a leadership position in Africa and very well respected.

“Our president is the current chairman of ECOWAS. This policy does not make an exception for our African brothers and neighbours. This is coming at a time when the African Continental Free Trade Area [AfCFTA] is gaining traction.

“This policy could be a major setback for the continental economic integration vision. Besides many of our citizens are in many African countries. They may be victims of a reciprocal actions by other African countries”.

Nigerian Breweries Plc, says it has no intent to exit Nigerian market despite the current economic downturn and continued rising costs of inputs.

The Head of Media and Marketing, NB, Wasiu Abiola,who disclosed this in Lagos at a media parley,said the company is taking a bet on the Nigerian Market.

“We have been here for over 77 years, we have no plans to exit Nigeria,” he said.

He said the company is a part of the economy and faces the same challenges others are facing, thus the price review is necessitated to sustain the company.

The company had recently issued a new price review notification to all its customers in the West Zone.

According to a letter dated February 12, 2024, the price review, effective February 19, 2024, is deemed necessary to offset the impact of increased production expenses.

“This is to inform you that we are constrained to review the prices of some of our SKUs with effect from Monday, February 19, 2024.

“This review has become necessary because of continued rising input costs and the need to mitigate the impact,” the statement said.

Abiola added that despite the economic challenges, the company is still having innovation at the core of its being, stressing that new products and campaigns to keep their customers satisfied will be launched.

Speaking,Obinna Aneke, Innovation Manager, NB, said the company is poised to redefine the beverage space by continuously evolving with the taste of the consumers.

“Beverages have not evolved in terms of taste, so what we have done is to bring some excitement so that people will find them more exciting,” he said.

Responding to the question of reduction in the quality of their product due to the economic challenges, Aneke assured that the company will retain its standard quality irrespective as the consumers’ satisfaction is their utmost priority.

The five major portfolio managers who gave a detailed explanation of their brand and how each of these portfolios have been working on innovations to ensure that the consumers’ satisfaction is achieved.

According to Laolu Babalola, Portfolio Manager for Mainstream Beer, the history of Alcoholic beverages in Nigeria is synonymous to the history of the company.

The mainstream portfolios have been able to produce beers that suit the taste of the different regions of the country.

Also, Babalola disclosed that the company through the portfolio has initiated schemes to support entrepreneurs due to the current state of the economy.

He said: “We empower people who are working by supporting their businesses.”

Babalola further disclosed that the company is looking into producing wine, spirit and other flavored drinks as part of its sustainability plans.

“We are getting into production of wines, spirits and other flavored drinks. we believe this is the way to protect the future,” he hinted.

On his part, Eloho Olumide, said the company is dedicated to giving back to the society through various initiatives such as the Maltina Teacher of the year Award which according to him would be a decade long this year.

Ramadan: Sugar Refineries Won’t Increase Price -FG

Mohammed Shosanya

Major sugar refineries across the country have pledged not to increase sugar prices during the Ramadan.

The pledge aligns with the Federal Government’s agenda for food security and economic stability,

The major sugar refineries made the pledge during the recent tour by Dr. Doris Uzoka-Anite, Minister of the Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade, and Investment.

During her visits to leading sugar producers such as Dangote Sugar Refinery Plc, BUA Sugar Refinery Ltd, Flour Mills Limited, Bestaf Ltd, Golden Sugar Company, and the Coca Cola Hellenic Bottling Company (CHBN), Dr. Uzoka-Anite observed a steadfast commitment to maintaining price stability.

A statement on Wednesday from the Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment, quoted the Minister as saying that “rest assured, there will be no increase in sugar prices, especially during Ramadan.”

The statement noted that the sugar refineries’ pledge was a clear demonstration of their alignment with the government’s efforts to bolster the agricultural sector and food security, key components of President Tinubu’s transformative agenda.

“I have witnessed their dedication to high-quality sugar production. While commendable, our collective goal demands a higher standard,” stated Dr. Uzoka-Anite, acknowledging the industry’s efforts while emphasising the need for continued excellence and efficiency in production.

Addressing performance concerns during her visit to Golden Sugar Company, the Minister stressed that sub-performance in the sugar master plan would not be acceptable.

The statement underscores the refineries’ commitment to not only maintaining prices during Ramadan but also to enhancing overall productivity and efficiency in line with the government’s vision.

“The sugar industry’s commitment to price stability during Ramadan exemplifies a synergistic relationship between the government and the private sector, working hand in hand to achieve common goals.

“This pledge by the sugar refineries, supported by the Federal Government’s resolve, is a reassuring step towards national development.

“The visit served as a strategic platform for the Minister to communicate the government’s unwavering stance on elevating performance standards within the sugar industry, harmonising with the strategic goals embedded in President Tinubu’s 8-Point Agenda,” the statement explained.

Oyo Govt Disburses N500m To SMEs

Mohammed Shosanya

The Oyo State Government on Monday presented N500m cheques to participating micro finance banks across the seven geopolitical zones in the state, as loan support to small and micro enterprises under the Sustainable Action for Economic Recovery (SAfER).

Presenting the dummy cheques to the representatives of the micro finance banks, the Chief of Staff to the Governor, Hon Segun Ogunwuyi,noted that the funds will cushion the hardship induced by the removal of the fuel subsidy.

Ogunwuyi, who is also the Chairman, SAfER committee, added that the Oyo state government is ready to support small and micro enterprises, maintaining that the beneficiaries were selected based on their business capacities.

He said micro businesses can access between N50,000 to N250,000, while small businesses also have the opportunity of accessing N250,000 to N1million loans under the scheme.

Ogunwuyi emphasized that the participating microfinance banks selected beneficiaries without any political influence.

Earlier in his remarks, the Chairman, SAfER Small and Medium Enterprises (SME) sub-committee, Professor Musibau Babatunde, explained that the loan support will not only boost SME, which is the baseline of the state economy activities, but would also help in achieving sustainable development goals which is to cushion the effects of hardship on people.

He admonished the beneficiaries to fulfill the obligation of repayment in shortest time so as to allow others to benefit from the laudable scheme.

He added that the loan is of no collateral and the beneficiaries have three months moratorium period before the commencement of repayment.

In his welcome address, the Director-General, Oyo State Investment of Public Private Partnership Agency, (OYSIPA), Barrister Olatilewa Folami, enjoined the beneficiaries to deploy the loan into profitable business and give opportunities for others to benefit.

Speaking on behalf of the beneficiaries, Mr. Sunday Fadipe pledged to use the loan judiciously, for the purpose it is meant for, as well as contribute to the development of the state.

Stop Putting Undue Pressure On Us,Manufacturers Tell FG

Mohammed Shosanya

The Manufacturers Association of Nigeria,MAN,has implored the federal government to stop putting undue pressure on its member through multiplicity of taxes.

The group said,the government should consider expanding tax net to bring in new tax payers which invariably will generate more revenue for the government.

MAN’s President, Otunba Francis Meshioye,disclosed these at the 40th Annual General Meeting (AGM) of Oyo, Osun, Ondo, and Ekiti state branch of MAN with was themed: “Tax Regime and Effects on Manufacturing: A Strategic Approach for Manufacturers.”

He said:”On daily basis, vehicles of members transporting raw materials and manufactured goods are harassed by different consultants who use tout tactics to demand for diverse taxes and levies, many times, these entities behave unprofessional to company personnel.”

He noted that government reform measures and policies had such as removal of fuel subsidy, floating of Naira exchange rate and increase in monetary policy rate had a lot of effect on manufacturers in the country.

He added that the poor performance of economy in the past few years made it imperative for state governments to appreciate the contribution of the manufacturing sector in job and wealth creation.

He,however,commended the Oyo, Osun, Ekiti, Ondo states government support to the manufacturing sector,saying discounts and concessions should also be giving to manufacturing outfits especially members of the association, to reduce imposed financial burden.

He stated that despite challenges facing his members, they has shown remarkable resilience and
determination and would continued to produce high-quality goods, create jobs, and contribute to the growth of the nations economy.

Speaking at the meeting, the chairman of Oyo, Ondo, Osun, and Ekiti branch, Mr Lanre Popoola, call for immediate rehabilitation of roads at the industrial estates.

Lanre Popoola also said its members are inundated with diverse taxes by agencies of the Federal, State and Local authorities. He listed the taxes such as Capital Income Tax (CIT), Value Added Tax (VAT), Stamp Duties, Personal Income Tax, Withholding Tax, and Industrial Training Fund Tax, among others.

He urged regulatory agencies within the branch comprising of Oyo, Osun, Ondo and Ekiti States to harmonize their taxes and levies, saying discounts and concessions should also be giving to manufacturing outfits especially members of the association, to reduce imposed financial burden.

Speaking on the level of roads at the industrial estates, Lanre Popoola said, “In Oyo State, Oluyole Estate and its Extension along the Lagos/lbadan expressway, the Egbeda Industrial
Estates and several road networks are in deplorable state.”

“We call on government to prioritize rehabilitation of these affected roads considering the high revenue generated and we are willing to partner with government in exchange for tax holidays.”

“The situation is similar in Osun, Ondo and Ekiti States and using the same template we can achieve more together sufficient and economically stable future.” Popoola said.

NESG Urges FG On Improved Ease Of Doing Business

Mohammed Shosanya

The Nigerian Economic Summit Group,NESG,has emphasized the need for urgent strategic shifts that impact the ease and cost of doing business within a relatively short period.

Its chairman,Mr.Niyi Yussuf,said this on Monday in Abuja at the opening ceremony of the 29th Nigerian Economic Summit(NES 29) organised by the Nigerian Economic Summit Group (NESG) in partnership with the Federal Ministry of Budget and Economic Planning.

He said the current state of ease of doing business is a matter of existential threat to the survival of enterprises and entrepreneurs.

Speaking on the challenges faced by the business operators in Nigeria, Yusuf said: “The low access to and increasing cost of FX, high cost of inventory, imported inputs, and operations, coupled with the diversity of taxes, continue to erode business balance sheets, with resultant contraction in production and employment.

“Large firms are battling low-capacity utilisation, while medium, small and micro-enterprises grapple with multidimensional complexities. These poor economic outcomes have created worsening social conditions that cannot be taken for granted.

“With more than 133 million multidimensionally poor Nigerians, there are potentially more risks of stagnation and distress if a low-growth and low-investment era persists. The future of the Nigerian Child is at stake, across every geopolitical zone.

“The Nigerian ageing population is also at risk. There is a high prospect that a retiree’s savings and investments will be eroded entirely just a few years into the first or second decade of retirement.

“Our high fertility rate which is driving a much higher population growth than economic growth poses a risk of an unproductive population bulge, with an unmanageable social infrastructure cost and burden for supporting our children’s health, nutrition and education.”

To achieve a multi-trillion dollar economy growth trajectory, Yusuf suggested a macroeconomic stabilisation programme supported by an aggressively scaled national security effort to halt all forms of syndicated and organised crime around crude oil and solid minerals.

“A Made-in-Nigeria Agenda. To Make-in-Nigeria, two strategic drivers require urgent investment:

He also said,Nigeria needs a national emergency energisation programme to enable access to stable, predictable, and affordable electricity supply and a national infrastructure corridor development programme

Nigeria,he said,requires a national job creation plan that drives the creation of huge volume of high-quality jobs,while a revised national assets optimisation plan that ensures critical national assets are fully utilised and productive was necessary.

He added:”Nigeria needs a national competitiveness plan that defines the sectors where we have a competitive advantage; and export expansion targets to achieve a trade surplus and a positive balance of payment and “capacity building agenda that answers the type of skills, competencies, expertise, and technological know-how required for the Nigerian Workforce for a Digitally Industrialised Nigeria, among others.

How New CBN’s Policy On 43 Items Will Affect Real Sector- MAN

Mohammed Shosanya

The Manufacturers Association of Nigeria,MAN,has advised the federal government to urgently reverse its decision to remove ban on 43 items on foreign exchange restriction by the Central Bank of Nigeria, (CBN) in order to save the nation from looming job crisis, insecurity and outright collapse of the nation’s economy.

The Vice Chairman of Basic Metal, Iron and Steel Products sector of the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria, (MAN) Mr. Lekan Adewoye, stated this while featuring on a TVC Business Programme.

He condemned the new CBN policy stressing that it is capable of collapsing many industries very soon.

Adewoye,who disagreed with the development from the apex bank noted that, “The news came as a surprise to manufacturers who are still struggling to stay in business, CBN did not ban the importation of these items in 2015, the apex bank only put a restriction on the importation of these items.

“For items that can be produced in Nigeria, such manufacturer ought to be encouraged. This directive will further kill the manufacturing industry that is already struggling to survive. The problem is about policy somersaults, some of our members who have outrightly invested in backward integration will now start to regret this move because everyone who can assess FOREX will claim to be an importer, forcing sincere manufacturers to close shop and increasing the numbers of jobless persons.”

“Nigerian manufacturers don’t really have any competitive advantage over those in other developing countries, at best, what you have is competitive parity, because something has to be an advantage if your competitors don’t have it. And the little incentive that government has provided now it has been removed by the directive from the Central Bank of Nigeria.”

On why manufacturers are leaving the country, Adewoye said: “Lack of consultation, I can speak for manufacturers because we always try our best to engage the government on some critical issues and decisions, but when some of these decisions are being taken, manufacturers are not being consulted.

“Even when the 43 items were put on the restriction list, there was no consultation. It was just at the end of the day, we felt that to a reasonable extent, the decision were in the interest of manufacturers, but there were a couple of items on that list, that some manufacturers use at that time, some of those manufacturers were also affected and government is taking a decision to remove the entire items on that list without proper consultation with the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria, (MAN) to even have an idea of what effect will this have on their businesses.

“I want to assure you that many industries will shutdown very soon and this will lead to lost of jobs and insecurity will be alarming in the country. Nigeria has all it needs to produce iron rods and other items on this list, opening up the market will be a disincentive to manufacturers that continue to put their resources and investment into growing the industry.”

Speaking on the country’s projection and outlook for manufacturers, Mr. Adewoye urged the federal government, concerned Ministries, Departments and Agencies, (MDAs) to carry manufacturers along in decision making and policy formulation adding that, “with the full support of government, manufacturing sector will improve in capacity, create more jobs and ultimately support government in the actualization of an industrialized nation.