The Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) has strongly condemned the invasionof Dangote Cement plant on Wednesday by the state’s security outfit, the Vigilantes, on the order of the State Governor Yahaya Bello, noting that suchaction will discourage new investments in the State.
The president, MAN, Mansur Ahmed, at a press conference to herald its 50thAnnual General Meeting (AGM) scheduled to hold on October, 17-19, 2022, said the action by Kogi government was of great concern, adding that it was incomprehensible that a state government could take such drastic action to shut down a plant that provides job opportunities and economic activities on a huge scale for the people of Kogi State.
“Theaction appears to be taken by government and it is alleged to be an effort for some alleged claim on some alleged payment of taxes that have not been made or recovered from the company,” Ahmed said.
He added that the move was totally illegitimate, pointing out that if the state government has any issue against any member of its association or corporate citizens, the appropriate thing to do was to take the member to court.
“You cannot use strong-arm tactics to shut them down or impose very severe restrictions on their operations simply to force them. This is illegal and I believe that what has happened will not happen in a normal operating environment,” the MAN boss said.
Hesaid the association has taken up the matter with the Federal Ministry ofIndustry, Trade and Investment in its bid to help address the anomaly in KogiState.
“Wehave no reason not to pay taxes to the Kogi State government as and when dueand I am aware that Dangote Industries is one of the highest tax-payers inNigeria. But, if indeed for whatever reason that there is a tax for the KogiState government on Dangote, it has measures and ways of recovery and there isno justification to threaten the closure of that industry.
“Weare totally opposed to that kind of measure because there are ways to resolvethis amicably in a legal manner and we hope that the relevant authorities inboth the federal and state levels would intervene to ensure that this kind ofaction is not repeated,” he said.
Hehowever, stated that the theme of the 50th AGM tagged “An Agenda for Nigeria’sIndustrialisation for the Next Decade” is borne out of the need to take stockof the naton’s journey to industrialisation, to ascertain the pains and tohighlight the performance limiters; recognise the gains and growth milestones;and to identify the learning curves and hurdles ahead.
Headded that over the years, the performance of the manufacturing sector has beenconstrained by numerous familiar challenges that are clearly espoused in itsnumerous presentations and submissions to the government.
Ahmedsaid it is a matter of great concern to its members that even as the economycontinues to experience very slow growth, policymakers at all levels continueto compound the situation by introducing new taxes; further worsening thedifficult and high-cost operating environment.
“Insome climes, when the economy slows down, government reduces taxes to encouragebusinesses to expand, create more jobs and increase economic activities. Whatwe are seeing in Nigeria today is not only increasing tax rate but introducingnew taxes and turning every public agency into a revenue collector. In themidst of the challenges, we are resilient and would soldier on with advocacyfor a conducive atmosphere for the operation of manufacturing business inNigeria. We will continue to work towards ensuring that Nigeria becomes anenvironment that promotes competitiveness,” Ahmed averred.
Alsospeaking, the Director General, MAN, Segun Ajayi Kadir, said the 50th AGM is specialbecause manufacturers have survived the turbulence both domestically andinternationally, stressing that the last few years for manufacturing hasexperienced external factors largely out of its control impacting negatively onthe economy.
Reactingto the federal government’s plan to impose excise duty on non-alcoholic drinks,Kadir said this is the wrong time to have it done.
“Whatis most painful is that the increase in excise on new products only startedthis year, so it will amount of changing the goal post in the middle of thegame. We have a three year plan on the escalation of excise duty; all that wasthrown into the dustbin and a new and higher one was introduced and targeted atkilling the industry. This should be rescinded immediately and that is the onlyway this sector can survive,” he said.