Manufacturers to sustain production, seek reliefs from government
Nigerian manufacturers have assured the nation’s economic managers and the public of sustaining operations and scaling up the production of essential commodities as the Coronavirus pandemic leads to a partial lockdown in many parts of the country.
According to the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), production will continue, as the operators urged government to consider the introduction of fiscal measures such as waivers on import duties on Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients (APIs), and other essential products.
The further asked for the extension of 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.
MAN president, Mansur Ahmed, in a statement, 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),”Ahmed said.
Some of the operators present at a stakeholders’ meeting held with the Federal Government eralier to address the issues affecting local production, stated that everyone has been tasked to explore measures to address shortages in production that may arise from the pandemic.
Some of the sectors identified for intervention according to information made available to The Guardian include, paper products; textile, apparel, leather and footwear; food, beverage and tobacco products; fabricated metal products; chemical and pharmaceutical products.
The Guardian learnt that a case was equally made for the packaging industry as many products will eventually need to be packaged.
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.
“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.
“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.” Ahmed said.