Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.) has informed the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria that his administration will do all possible to increase access to foreign exchange for the purchase of raw materials and machines not available locally.
In response to pleas to have the manufacturing sector contribute more to the Nigerian economy, Buhari said this on Wednesday at the State House during an advocacy visit by the leadership of MAN.
President Buhari promises to address forex supply to manufacturers for importation, according to a statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina.
The President assured the MAN executives, led by Mansur Ahmed, that the relevant Ministry will revisit their concerns about the increase in excise duties on the identified products, as well as other tariff-related issues.
On the African Continental Free Trade Area, President Buhari stated that Nigeria would expedite the process of establishing the Designated Competent Authority, which will oversee the administration of the Rules of Origin and Commission, as well as the automation of the issuance of electronic Certificates of Origin.
He went on to say that the Federal Government would set up necessary structured mechanisms for monitoring and evaluating the success of the Ease of Doing Business, as well as increased government patronage of made-in-Nigeria products.
He said ‘‘Our strategic plan to boost manufacturing activities in the country is on course.
‘‘We will continue to improve the patronage of locally made goods, bridge the gap between skills required by industry and those provided by our tertiary institutions and ensure seamless access to long term finance for our Small and Medium-Scale Enterprises.
‘‘We recognize that MAN remains a key stakeholder in this journey and we will continue our engagement with you,’’ he said.
Buhari said that a private-sector-led economy is the best way to create jobs, and he urged the MAN leadership to continue to encourage manufacturers, saying that the government recognizes their members’ and other private-sector organizations’ resilience in promoting a thriving manufacturing sector in Nigeria.
On the impact of COVID-19 on global economies, the President stated that while the epidemic hurt the Nigerian economy by causing price swings in oil, his administration has effectively contained the pandemic and other diseases’ spread.
He went on to say that the federal government would continue to use sensible methods of wisely allocating limited resources to keep the economy afloat and boost growth.
Buhari also underlined that, despite limited resources, his administration has made significant progress in road and rail infrastructure development, manufacturing sector stimulus packages, energy management, and exporter support to improve the working climate for Nigerian firms.
‘‘These projects are there for all to see. Furthermore, we are vigorously pursuing reforms on ease of doing business and currently putting in place other necessary policy measures and incentives that will guarantee full recovery from the consequences of COVID-19, sustain economic development and further shield the economy from the potential impact of fluctuations in the price of crude oil in the global market.
‘‘I have listened carefully to all the challenges enumerated by the President of MAN and would like to assure you that, as we have done in the recent past, we will consider some of the constraints that are yet to be fully addressed, especially those that align with our policies and programmes for economic recovery and sustainable development.
‘‘Let me assure you that this Administration is fully aware that the survival of Nigeria lies in Agriculture and having a viable domestic manufacturing sector…when I say Agriculture, I also refer to Agro-Allied business which is the value-added component in the value chain.
‘‘A strong manufacturing sector creates more jobs and wealth for our people,’’ he said.
Mariam Katagum, Minister of State for Industry, Trade and Investment, vowed that the Ministry would continue to engage with MAN on policy, trade, and establishing an environment that would help businesses develop in Nigeria.