The slow economic growth rate is worsened by poor infrastructure, low consumer purchasing power, restriction of foreign exchange (forex) for importation of certain raw materials by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), and multiple taxation by federal, state and local government agencies.
The scenario has further deteriorated by the spate of insecurity.
But there is a way out: more favourable policies from the Federal Government, the Chemical and Non-Metallic Products Employers’ Federation (CANMPEF) has said.
Its President, Mr. Devakumar Edwin, said at CAMPEF 40th Annual General Meeting (AGM), in spite of the efforts of the Federal Government to support the Organised Private Sector (OPS), the challenges have been overwhelming.
He recalled that ahead of the last general election, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) released a report, which showed that Nigeria’s economy recovered and expanded by 1.93 per cent last year, higher than 0.82 per cent recorded the previous year.
“While we are appreciative of the steady recovery in the economy, its yet fragile state is a clear indication that additional policies that support existing efforts should be implemented urgently to scale up performance and inclusive growth of the economy,” he said.
He lamented that impediments, whether in the area of policies, infrastructural problems and others have continued to stall the progress of the manufacturing sector.
Edwin listed current challenges confronting the sector to include, among others, unscheduled/frequent visits to member companies’ work premises by the Ogun State Environmental Protective Agency and introduction of payment on imported containers by National Environmental Standards and Regulations Enforcement Agency (NESREA) as environmental imported clearance charge.
To the federation, this is synonymous with payments made to the Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON) and National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) on the same transaction.
“Also, on the Land Use Charge review, the OPS engaged the Lagos State Government, and so far, there has been a downward review of the charge,” he said.
Edwin, who was re-elected president of the federation, said the leadership would make a representation to Ogun State Governor Dapo Abiodun, whom he said was a businessman before becoming the governor.
“The problems we are facing are enormous. Within a year, we paid N24 billion on demurrage, all because of bad roads leading to the ports,” he added
He reiterated that the challenges were the reasons members of the OPS kicked against Nigeria signing the African Free Trade Agreement (AFCTFA).
“So far, the ECOWAS (Economic Community of West African States) treaty has not been successful, that was why we were afraid of AFCTFA agreement initially. We are the one operating in Nigeria and for us to move products from Ghana, we pay phenomenal taxation in form of road tax to Togo and other countries within the region,” he said.
Guest Speaker Dr. Joshua Bamfo, who spoke on: Government policies: Enhancing the manufacturing sector, warned that the AFCTFA would not be beneficial to Nigeria if the nation’s infrastructure remained in their present state.
“Power supply has to be resolved if Nigeria is to compete favourably in AFCTFA; if not, other countries will take the benefits,” he said.
The federation’s Executive Secretary, Mr. Femi Oke, said the economy had remained challenging in the last five years, as private sector lending remained low and forex inflows mostly short term.