The Manufacturers Association of Nigeria, MAN, said it is yet to fully understand the import of President Muhammadu Buhari’s directive to the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, on restriction of foreign exchange to food importation into the country.
According to the Association, a close examination of the directive reveals that it is broad and would have to be both specific and targeted and there should also be strategic implementation to achieve the purpose intended by government.
The for instance, it wanted to know what type of food whether it is finished and ready to eat or as input for further processing.
Mr. Segun Ajayi-Kadir, Director General of the MAN in a position paper, stated that in the case of input for process, there is need to know the local capacity available compared to national demand and if not adequate, creditably determine what time and resources are needed to ramp up capacity and production.
“It is pertinent to pre-determine these suggestions as part of the implementation strategy. To achieve sustainable self-sufficiency, local producers ought to be incentivized otherwise we may be inviting a looming barrage of smuggling activities.
“We are not necessarily worried about the directive and we prefer to see it as an expression of Mr. President’s mindset.
We are sure Mr President is aware of the independence of the CBN and that such policies may be counterproductive if implemented by fiat, without ensuring necessary alignment with the fiscal policy and other economic policy initiatives of this administration.
The necessary support that would sustain the “steady progress in agricultural production” and attainment of “full food security”, for instance, would have to be considered. On the matter at hand, what is needed is clarity.”Ajayi-Kadiri pointed out.
He said the Apex bank will have to do an assessment of where we are in practical terms and realistically weigh its options before embarking on such a far-reaching policy, adding, “There should also be a process to be followed before such a plan is unfolded. On an issue as critical as this, a unilateral decision could be counterproductive when the operators are not duly consulted. We must consider the state of our infrastructure and its capacity to respond and support the policy.”
While, the Association lauded the move, it called for clarity as we have to be deliberate and strategic in pursuing such a far-reaching monetary measure, especially in the light of our vulnerability occasioned by trade agreements that require the country to be more open to imports and the well-known antics of our neighboring countries.
The Director General, acknowledge the initiative as it aims at consolidating the progress made towards food sufficiency, conserving our foreign exchange and encouraging consumption of locally produced food.
“As you are aware, MAN actively supports resource-based industrialization, and this is based on our position that we should significantly improve our local sourcing of raw materials and develop sustainable value chains. We believe that value addition to products creates more jobs and wealth for the Nation.
Our mantra is clearly harped on patronage of made in Nigeria products as we believe the country can only experience development when we buy what we produce and produce what we consume.”, he said.
The MAN stated that on several occasions, it has engaged the government to provide support for local manufacturers who have embraced backward integration in the course of manufacturing with records revealing the positive impact on the agricultural sector, stressing that without mincing mincing words, MAN is for local sourcing of raw materials and production, patronage of locally produced goods and the general growth and development of the manufacturing sector of the country.