…Insists on 5% for manufacturers
By Bimbola Oyesola
The Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) has condemned the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN)’s retention of its prime lending interest rate at 14 per cent despite the challenges in the economy.
According to MAN, the decision of the CBN to retain the high Monetary Policy Rate (MPR) at 14 per cent will continue to dampen investment and output in the economy particularly in the manufacturing sector.
President of MAN, Dr. Frank Jacobs, at the association’s annual media luncheon at the weekend, in Lagos, maintained that the manufacturers could only survive on 5 per cent interest rate.
He noted that one of the association’s major advocacy for 2017 would be a concessionary interest rate of 5 per cent for manufacturers.
Jacobs said the association has done its best advocacy on lowering the MPR, stressing that MAN would continue to ask for 5 per cent interest rate for manufacturers as high interest rate will not favour manufactures.
He urged the CBN to drastically lower interest rates for manufacturers, stressing that MAN members are not happy about the current MPR. He pointed out that MAN has been working with Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment to make a total Content Act as a bill to the Senate.
Speaking on foreign exchange accessibility, Jacobs stated that unavailability of foreign exchange has forced most manufacturers to close shop or reduce their capacity.
He said, “most of our members are depending on black market to source for foreign exchange for procurement of their raw materials and machinery from abroad, which will make us uncompetitive.
“Periodically, we engaged government on the issues of patronage of made-in-Nigeria products. We have had forum on it and we’ve recorded success, today they are coming up with buy made-in-Nigeria policy.”
He stated that the association has mandated the Federal Government not to sign the ECOWAS-EU Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) in its current form, while advocating for the reviewing of the Export Expansion Grant (EEG), which has been in limbo since 2014.
We are advocating improved budgetary allocation for the upgrade of critical infrastructure by the Federal Government as evidence in the establishment of the Development Bank of Nigeria.
MAN President, however, stated that the association has secured a favourable tariff regime for the pharmaceutical sector and promoted sector-specific incentives for national economic development.
While speaking on 2017 outlook, Jacobs maintained that MAN, in consonance with its mandate, would pursue some strategic issues on the association’s advocacy radar.
He urged the government to ensure significant improvement on infrastructure, especially power and transport.
Jacobs tasked the government to improve on ease of doing business, calling for abolition of multiple taxation, unorthodox mode of collection and review of CBN’s list of 41 items that are not valid for foreign exchange to enable manufacturers source critical raw materials that are not available locally.