The Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) has tasked governors Nyesom Wike of Rivers State and Douye Diri of Bayelsa State to create friendlier environment for businesses to thrive.
Chairman of MAN for Rivers and Bayelsa, Michael Pepple, gave the charge at the weekend in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital at its 37th annual general meeting (AGM).
While noting that the governors took proactive steps by granting tax holidays to manufacturers with a view to ensuring that their factories and business thrived during the COVID-19 lockdown, Pepple expressed concerns that multiple taxation and overregulation by government agencies still posed a huge challenge to manufacturers.
“It is worthy to note that due the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the economy over the high number of deaths, which affected manpower capacity, falling crude oil price, slow global supply and demand and faltering economic activities during the lockdown, the state governments granted tax holidays to manufacturers to ensure that our factories remain alive.
“Also, manufacturers were granted waivers during the period, which allowed for productive activities, although the impact of the pandemic eventually threw the manufacturing sector into economic recession in the third quarter of 2020,” he said.
He, however, stated that high cost of electricity, multiple taxation and low patronage of locally manufactured goods, among others severely affected manufacturing activities in the region.
“Inadequate electricity supply and constant increases in tariff without commensurate improvement in generation, transmission and distribution still remain key challenges of the sector.
“Manufacturers were also challenged by low patronage of locally manufactured products evident in the high number of unsold inventories, which increased to N303.22 billion in the second half of 2020 from N202.16 billion in the corresponding period of 2019.
“Also, manufacturers are still overburdened with several demands from all tiers of government in the form of taxes, levies, fees and permits, among others. In addition, manufacturing companies are confronted daily with multiple regulations and excessive drive for revenue generation by government agencies,” Pepple said.
He, however, commended Wike for infrastructure development and Diri for economic growth in the agricultural sector and charged the state governments to work towards making their environments friendlier for businesses, as well as involve MAN in the development of their programmes and policies.
“Although the challenges confronting the manufacturing sector are many, we are confident that with concerted efforts and effective public-private sector partnership, we will recreate a friendlier operating environment for the sector required for sustained economic growth in the country,” he stated.
Guest speaker and former president of the Port Harcourt Chamber of Commerce, Industry and
Agriculture, Emi Membere-Otaji, advised business owners to rise up to the new challenges, stressing that businesses would never return to the old ways, because most of their owners and promoters have learnt how to operate from home and reduce physical presence.