Written by Ijeoma UKAZU

PMG-MAN decries low FG patronage, seeks debt offsetting

Worried by the deploring state of healthcare delivery in the country, the Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Group of Manufacturers Association of Nigeria, PMG-MAN, has decried low government patronage of manufacturing pharmaceutical products even as it appealed for debt payment of N2 billion.

Making the appeal in Abuja during a courtesy visit on the Minister of Health, Prof Isaac Adewole, chairman, PMG-MAN, Okey Akpa, stated that "the group is constrained to bring to your attention the issue of huge domestic debts amounting to about two billion naira being owed local pharmaceutical manufacturers that supplied Ministries, Departments and Agencies of Government since the year 2012.

"The debts are for essential medicines and healthcare commodities such as anti-retroviral medicines for people living with HIV/AIDS, other essential medicines and commodities are for flood disaster relief programs."

Akpa however urged the minister to address some of the daunting challenges faced by the group despite its huge investments stating that "the level of patronage by MDAs of government is deplorable despite targets of the National Drugs Policy and the provisions of Domestic Preference Policy in the Public Procurement Act 2007."

He said that the situation is further compounded by practices that encourage donation of medicines largely imported in spite of presidential directive since 2012 and documented resolution of the federal executive council.

The chairman recommended that there should be "retention and implementation of presidential directives on patronage of manufacturers 2012 and strict compliance with section 34(VI) of the Public Procurement Act 2007 on domestic preference under the oversight of the Bureau of Public Procurement."

Stating further he said the companies are now burdened by accrued interests from bank loans and financial commitments which has forced them to downsize, laid off workers and stop production as a result of this crisis even as he calls for the " immediate payment of these debts as well as strict adherence to the Public Procurement Act to avoid a repeat of these crisis."

He however frowned at the commencement of the implemented Common External Tariff, CET, which has made locally produced medicines more expensive than the imported finished pharmaceutical products, stressing the need for urgent review and redress of the policy on import duty rates.

In this response, the minister said that the issue would be addressed especially the high import duty rates assuring that a committee and due process would be followed for the immediate payment of the outstanding debts.

"I want to assure that before the first quarter of next year the ministry will pay for all outstanding debts and services it has used in the past time.

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