Govt unfolds protectionist policy for local firms

SECURE-IT-•Commissions SecureID’s plant in Lagos

•BoI affirms commitment to devt financing

THE Federal Government, Monday, unveiled plans to continually review tariffs and waiver granting as part of efforts to encourage local content development as well as improve capacity utilization of manufacturing companies in the country.

   Indeed, local industrial firms had cited unfavourable import tariffs and waivers as factors responsible for low capacity utilization of their factories and lack of competitiveness in the global market as imported goods continue to thrive in the country.

   President Goodluck Jonathan, while speaking at the commissioning of the EMV certified smart card manufacturing plant of SecureID Limited in Lagos Monday, stated that his administration had formulated and implemented policies to drive the growth of innovative products that would further aid the realization of a digital economy.

   President Jonathan, who was represented by the Minister of Communications Technology, Mrs. Omobola Johnson, noted that with the cards market still growing as a result of growing needs of the teeming population, it has become necessary to discourage excessive importation of services that can be offered in the country.

    He added that the commissioning of the factory is a concrete result of his administration’s transformation agenda, stressing that government is unrelenting in its drive to encourage local investors to remain competitive in the country through favourable policy formulation and implementation.

   Johnson, in her capacity as the Communications Technology Minister, explained that capacity utilization of factories is hinged on the ability to increase local content and boost patronage of goods and services being offered.

   She said: “What we are witnessing is the result of a collaborative effort between the ministries of Finance, Communications Technology and Industry, Trade and Investment. Government has done its part in making the communications technology sector attractive by making tariffs commercially uncompetitive for importers, especially in areas where the country has capacity. We need to support these industries through increased patronage if they have to thrive in their businesses”.

    On his part, the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Olusegun Aganga, who was represented by the Managing Director of Bank of Industry (BoI), Rasheed Olaoluwa added that the company had gone through two phases of backward integration in a bid to effectively commence local production of cards in the country, stressing that the feat remains a testimony as regards the National Industrial Revolution Plan (NIRP) and local content policy of the government.

     Olaoluwa explained that BoI remains committed to its development financing responsibility having provided financial assistance to the firm for the procurement of plant and machinery.

   According to him, the bank derives a sense of fulfillment from the manner in which the company has utilized the funds.

       “We are witnessing a successful backward integration of activities in the card industry through local production of cards. The company has established capacity and smart manufacturing techniques. As a customer of our bank, we have supported the business and this shows that the facility has been effectively utilised”, he added.

   The Managing Director of SecureID Limited, Mrs Kofo Akinkugbe, noted that the company has the capacity and the quality of operational and administrative personnel to produce chip and PIN based smartcards that support payments and biometric identification, verification and authentication purposes.

  According to her, the company’s local production of smart cards for the financial sector, telecommunications and public sector has reduced the level of imports and exposure to the foreign exchange market.

   With a capacity to produce 200 million card yearly, she added that local sourcing of raw materials and effective market analysis has assisted the firm in filling gaps discovered in the market while giving it the capacity to produce products that could serve Nigeria and other West African countries.

   She further stated that the company is building a recycling process that would help the nation to address waste of raw materials in the economy.

   “This state-of-the-art smartcard manufacturing facility aids the local production of SIM cards for the telecoms industry, bank payment cards and high security polycarbonate identity cards for the private and public sectors. This great effort is in line with the nation’s vision of actualizing local content production.

   “SecureID provides turn-key solutions for the smartcard identity industry from project start, through design, manufacture and personalization to final card packaging/fulfillment. SecureID supports a wide range of card products such as EMV SmartCards, GSM SIM cards, Magnetic-stripe debit cards, Loyalty cards, Contactless dual interface chip cards, Multipurpose secure identity cards and Mifare cards,” she added.

   The project is also backed by First Bank of Nigeria Plc.

   For the General Managing of Lagos State Residents Registration Agency (LASRRA), Ms Yinka Fashola, the SecuredID plant is globally competitive, and “what we are seeing here today is comparable to what obtains in developed countries. I am very impressed with the plant.”

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