Saby Elemba in Owerri
Members of the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), Imo/ Abia branch, have been commended for their dexterity, resolve and tenacity in keeping their businesses afloat despite the harsh operating environment in the country, especially, in Imo and Abia states.
Jude Eluma, the immediate past chairman of the Imo/Abia branch of the manufacturers group, made the commendation during the 36th annual general meeting (AGM) in Aba, Abia State, an occasion that ended his tenure as chairman.
Speaking on the theme of the AGM, “The Impact of Naira Float Policy (Naira Devaluation) on the Nigerian Manufacturing Sector”, Eluma noted that it was apt based on the prevailing economic challenges that are negatively impacting commercial activities in the country.
However, he said that manufacturers in the country have always been faced with a plethora of external and internal challenges, especially in Imo and Abia states which have brought setbacks to the members and their businesses.
From the hydra-headed effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, which almost grounded the manufacturing sector globally, through the scarcity of foreign exchange and the continuous depreciation of the naira, that has made “importation of critical input a nightmare experience for manufacturers, to the decaying institutional and infrastructural facilities that should drive activities, policy constraints that compound the woes of manufacturers,” the sector wasn’t encouraging, he said.
He also bemoaned the nationwide cash crunch as a result of the naira design as well as other challenging factors which have caused many factories to be forced out of business.
In order to encourage and boost the manufacturing sector, Eluma called for the harmonisation of fiscal and monetary policies to pave the way for a stable macroeconomic environment.
He also noted that efforts to revive the manufacturing sector, which is the engine of economic growth of a nation, have continued to be undermined by Nigeria’s unstable macroeconomic environment, which has resulted in poor key manufacturing indicators in successive quarters.
According to him, “one peculiar challenge that has practically brought manufacturing to its knees, is the hydra-headed insecurity in our region. Security of lives and property is a major threat index in our manufacturing concerns. Movements are restricted, factories, markets, homes are shut.”
Other challenges, he said, include multiple forms of taxation, poor power supply, recently the removal of the fuel subsidy, the recent policy of the federal government that unbanned the 43 items that were previously removed from access to foreign exchange for importation.
He described the unbanning of the 43 items as a “clear case of government’s policy somersault, which has over the years been destroying manufacturing in Nigeria”.