By Ignatius Okorocha
Stakeholders in Nigeria’s manufacturing industry and the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) have kicked against the 500 per cent hike on excise tariff by the Federal Ministry of Finance.
The stakeholders included the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), Distillers and Blenders Association of Nigeria (DIBAN), Association of Food Beverage and Tobacco Employers of Nigeria (AFBTEN).
In their separate submissions to the Senate Committee on Finance on Monday, the stakeholders argued that the policy anchored on recommendation to that effect by Tariff Technical Committee (TTC) would if implemented, ground the operations of the manufacturers and producers as well as render millions of Nigerians jobless.
The committee had in line with resolutions of the Senate in May this year organised the public hearing on the “urgent need to review the excise tariff increment in order to save local distillers of beverages from looming extinction.”
While the Chairman of DIBAN, Mr. Patrick Anegbe, in his submission, warned that if the policy was implemented, N420billion worth of investment would be ruined aside 250,000 workers to be laid off, the representative of Guinness Plc said that £12million worth of investment by the company would be jeopardised along with collateral damages on thousands of Nigerians that would end up in the labour market .
Comrade Mike Olanrewaju, who represented the labour unions, said that the proposed tariff was suicidal and must not be allowed.
“To us in the labour sector , it is capital NO to such tariff increase and if any increase is to be made at all, it should not be above one digit.
“The proposed increase is counterproductive and would be resisted by all stakeholders because after Dunlop, Michelin, we don’t want any industry to collapse or relocate out of the country again,” he said.
Though the Director-General of MAN, Mr. Segun Ajayi Kadiri, admitted that the Ministry of Finance and TTC consulted them in the proposed tariff hike, the rate agreed upon on the basis of revenue generation by government was not what the ministry eventually arrived at .
However, the Director of Legal Services from the Ministry of Finance who represented the minister, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, said that the 500% duty hike was agreed upon by all stakeholders before the ministry issued a circular to that effect in February this year.
The Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, who represented the Senate President, Bukola Saraki said: “The major source of concern is the non-inclusion of primary stakeholders in the industry such as MAN, Distillers and Beverages Association in the consultation process.