The ongoing stifling of foreign exchange (forex) will lead to mass shutdown of firms in the New Year with attendant job losses, the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) has warned the Federal Government.
Also, the association pointed out that the country’s business environment is becoming more hostile and unbearable due to escalating exchange rates, forex scarcity, COVID-19, multiple taxes and border closure.
Acting Director-General of MAN, Mr. Ambrose Oruche, in an interview with New Telegraph, said one of the issues affecting manufacturing presently and its members was the continued border closure by government with its dire consequence on trade.
He noted that the manufacturing sector had been ‘near death’ situation before COVID-19 set in, adding that, currently, manufacturers were finding it difficult to access forex to import raw materials and machineries, which could lead to dire consequences in the new year if not quickly addressed by the Federal Government.
The MAN acting DG cited an example of one of the manufacturing companies, which had placed order for raw materials since March and only got the supply in November 2020. He said: “Before December 2019, when Coronavirus hit Wuhan in China, the manufacturing sector in Nigeria was in ‘near death’ situation.
The sector was neglected by the government. It is a sector that creates jobs and contributes between eight per cent and 9.5 per cent to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
“The Nigerian economy already had underlying ailments and COVID-19 only worsened it. So many suppliers abroad refused to sell raw materials to the manufacturers. “It has not been easy for the manufacturing sector.
They create their own water, build roads to their factories and, if possible, they would build their ports. It will be difficult for so many companies to come back after Christmas, because no forex, and they need replacement of spare parts etc.
“I want to appeal to the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to prioritise forex to the manufacturing sector, to be able to bring in needed raw materials and machineries. “And efforts should be geared towards the production of raw materials locally,” he added.