Leading manufacturers in the South-East on Wednesday, appealed to the Federal Government to grant their companies and other manufacturers in the zone waiver on import/custom duties of relevant raw materials and machines.
The manufacturers made the appeal when a delegation from the Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment on assessment of the level of development at the Enugu International Trade Fair visited their factories.
They added that the high cost of clearing and handling of imported raw materials remained one of the major challenges of manufacturing in Nigeria.
The General Manager, Innoson Technical Company Ltd Enugu, Mr C.O. Ubah and Chief Executive Officer, Rico Groups, Eric Chime, who spoke separately, said their appeal became imperative since importers that cut corners to import finished goods were now selling at a cheaper rate than the local manufacturers.
Ubah, who spoke during the visit to the Innoson Factory, said that plastic product companies in Nigeria were suffering due to the inability of the Eleme Petrochemical Company to meet the demand for its product which is the raw material for plastic product companies.
He called on the Federal Government to give licence to more petrochemical companies and also allow more modular refineries to join the industry to break the monopoly of Eleme Petrochemical Industry in supply of plastic product raw materials.
“It takes about two weeks to receive 20 per cent of an order from Eleme Petrochemical Industry. This is not good for manufacturing companies because it will affect your market value chain and the entire business circle.
“The Federal Government should break the monopoly power of Eleme Petrochemical Industry to create multiple/steady sources of raw materials and to save the plastic manufacturing industry in Nigeria.”
Ubah lamented that the Innoson tire factory that was built with the support of Bank of Industry, which has the capacity for producing tires for cars and lorries, had not been able to go into full production due to high environmental impact assessment cost by the National Environmental Standards and Regulations Enforcement Agency as well as other bureaucratic bottlenecks associated with NESREA approvals.
He stated that the delay in getting the necessary approvals led to the Chinese expatriates leaving in the heat of the COVID-19 pandemic. He said the exit of the expats had left the factory idle since approvals were finally received.
He said, “Our tire factory was only producing keke and motorcycle tires because of the bottlenecks in getting approvals from NESREA.
“We would have got the mold for car and lorry tires if NESREA had given its approvals long before the COVID-19 outbreak.
“Unfortunately, our Chinese expatriates left due to COVID-19 and there has not been much progress since then. We hope to commence the production of all lines of tires soonest.”
He prayed the ministry to wade into the issue of approvals by NESREA to make it easier for more companies to go into the manufacturing sector and create more jobs and propel economic growth.