Written by Sarah NEGEDU

Forex policy boosts local industry- manufacturers

The recent foreign exchange restriction on the importation of some selected item may have been well received by manufacturers in Nigeria, as they said the policy is enhancing their production capacity.

Describing the policy as “the game changer”, some members of the Nigerian manufacturing industry say the foreign exchange policy is boosting the growth of the local industry.

According to Nassos Sidirofagis, deputy managing director, Tempo paper pulp and packing limited, Ota, the policies have helped increase local production capacity and promote expansion.

“The recent CBN policy is helping us tremendously. It is something we’ve been waiting for, not only us, but other manufacturers, because now, customers are now buying Nigerian products instead of importing,

“The policies were quite significant for us; as I said, it was the game changer. We are a truly Nigerian company and we are competing with global players from China, India. With the new policy we have been able to increase our capacity from 50 to 70 percent.”

The CBN in June 2015 had restricted the importation of 41 items from accessing foreign exchange through the apex bank of commercial banks, so as to reduce the pressure on the naira.

Items like rice, cement, meat and their products, poultry-chicken, turkey, eggs, margarine, palm products, vegetable oils, private airplane/jets, among others, were classified as ‘not valid for forex.’

Importers of such products and services were therefore asked to source for forex outside the Nigerian foreign exchange markets.

Advising Nigeria on ways to avoid the economic downturn such as was experienced by Greece in the past few years, the US trained engineer said: “The medicine is only one, you have to have discipline in government spending, you have to help the manufacturing sector, you have to have policies that contribute to job creation.

“Being from Greece, I understand that the problems that we have are the same in many other countries. The solution is to open up the market, focus on manufacturing and local production.

“We were like you [Nigerians], we were importing because we had plenty of money, but at the end of the day we got bankrupt, just because we didn’t have a strong manufacturing [industry] supported by the government.

“If you keep these policies for one or two years more and you remain strong with it, you’d see that you’d have many investors come to Nigeria.”

Also speaking on the surge in demand for local products since the policy was introduced, the group operations director of Sren chemicals and polymer packaging, Oluwasesan Taiwo-Tijani, explained that, “Since this policy has been enacted, we’ve observed that the demand for our products has increased drastically. We looked at our sales last year, what we were able to make, in six months, we’ve made in just one month this year just as a result of these policies.

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