By Phillip Oladunjoye Lagos
Participants at a recent conference title “Nigeria After the 2015 Elections: Which Way Forward?” have called on the incoming administration of President Muhammadu Buhari to address the various challenges impeding the smooth operations of the manufacturing sector.
The participants also appeal to the president-elect to appoint an industrialist to the Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment, and that the new administration should routinely consult the private sector before changing laws.
They also seek the implementation of the Oronsaye report, which they noted would enhance fiscal savings by reducing the number of ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) by up to one third.
The implementation of the report, they noted, would also create savings for business by trimming the number of mandatory contact points with government.
The participants argued that the technical skills for entry into manufacturing jobs were in short supply, noting that a scheme in operation in China brings the government and local manufacturers together in a joint venture to teach the necessary skills for the sponsoring plant.
They also noted that all companies, not just manufacturers, face acute cost pressures as a result of the power and general infrastructure deficit, which generally means they cannot compete in export markets.
The participants submitted that there are many challenges being faced by the manufacturing sector in Nigeria, noting that the topline has stagnated in the past two years while the cost base has greatly increased.
They added that the sector had taken a number of hits before the two devaluations, noting that security costs had been underestimated, covering not merely the 25% premium for moving goods into the north east but charges for working amid tensions in the Middle Belt and elsewhere.
They lamented that taxes are often duplicated below the federal level, and that a call from Abuja for state governments to boost their internally generated revenue had generally leads to harassment by officials from the finance commissioner’s department.
The participants, were, however, optimistic that Lagos State, as well as 21 others, should overcome those elements of the deficit created by approval delays and financing blockages arising from political rivalries based on the fact that the APC will hold the presidency, while also calling for the reduction of the pressure on subnational finances, noting that as many as 30 state governments have fallen behind with their salary payments.
Source : Independent