From Oluseye Ojo, Ibadan
The President of Manufacturers’ Association of Nigeria (MAN), Dr. Frank Jacobs, has said that if the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari is serious about diversification of the economy, the nation’s benchmark interest rate should be reviewed downward to five per cent, from the current Monetary Policy Rate (MPR) of 14 per cent.
He made the demand yesterday at the 33rd Annual General Meeting of Oyo/Osun/Ondo/Ekiti State Branch of MAN, which was held at Jogor Centre, Ibadan.
“We are not happy about the current MPR. If truly we want to industrialise this country, interest rate must be in the neighbourhood of five per cent. It is the only way we can diversify the economy,” he said, while enjoining the Federal Government to review items considered not valid for foreign exchange allocation and remove them because they are not locally available, adding that the manufacturing sector deserved special attention.
He, however, told the government not to go ahead with the proposed increase of Value Added Tax (VAT) at present because the country is going through economic recession.
“This is the time to give incentives to the people to produce. If there are a lot of taxes, they would not be able to produce and create employment,” he said.
Delivering a lecture entitled: “Fiscal Policy Thrust for Inclusive Growth in Nigeria’s Manufacturing Sector,” the founder/Chief Executive Officer, International Centre for Leadership and Entrepreneurship Development (ICLED), Prof. (Mrs.) Olajumoke Familoni-Adeosun, urged government to set aside some plots of land as industrial parks, adding that building of infrastructure, conduct of value-adding research and partnership are vital for industrial development.
Her words: “Money must circulate to the local and indigenous contractors. This is the time to borrow as much as possible. The local manufacturers must not suffer.”
She described manufacturing as a labour-intensive sector that absorbs a lot of human capital, decrying low patronage of locally manufactured items in the country as many people have preference for imported goods.
Familoni-Adeosun, however, cautioned manufacturers against compromising the quality of goods, saying: “Don’t reduce in the quality of your products. You can cut in other areas that will not directly affect the consumers but not the quality. We need to do ours while government is doing its bit. Abide by the rules.”