Despite complaints by members of the Organised Private Sector (OPS) on access to foreign exchange to import raw materials, latest figures from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) show that not less than 1,342 manufacturers and allied firms received $660.17 million from the apex bank through Deposit Money Banks (DMBs) for importation of raw materials, plants and machinery in September.
A breakdown, according to the bank, showed that 719 manufacturing firms accessed the funds, 266 firms sourced funds for raw materials, 59 were non-manufacturing entities, while others sourced the funds to procure machinery.
Besides, manufacturers in the country have urged the Federal Government to unveil new support schemes to drive local production, even as the government announced plans to resume implementation of the Export Expansion grant (EEG), an incentive-based initiative to encourage value addition, after three years of suspension.
The EEG, which was suspended in 2014, following allegations of abuse and accumulation of significant liability on the Negotiable Duty Credit Certificate to the tune of N300 billion, was initiated to encourage exporters of non-oil products, as well as agro-commodities, in order to cushion the effects of infrastructural deficiencies and reduce overall unit cost of production.
It will be recalled that many manufacturing outfits, especially those involved in the processing of cocoa, leather and cotton have declined due to inability to access the outstanding claims owed by the Federal Government.
Speaking at separate events in Lagos and Abuja, yesterday, the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Okechukwu Enelamah, while addressing journalists, said the scheme would resume in 2017 under a programme linked to tax credit, where all outstanding debts would be paid and the scheme made more sustainable.
According to him, the plan of the government was to increase export and not importation of goods.
On his part, the President of Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), Frank Jacobs, while speaking at the yearly general meeting of MAN, Apapa branch in Lagos, said the sector was passing through difficult times and would require manufacturers to be creative to remain in business, while seeking incentives from the Federal Government to encourage local production.
He said the resource-based industrialisation policy which involves utilisation of the nation’s abundant natural resources in making products the country needs would not come without a cost, urging manufacturers to retool existing technologies and production processes.
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