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FG plans review of tariffs, waivers to boost local production

By on January 21, 2015

The federal government has concluded plans to review tariffs and waivers-granting as part of efforts to boost local production as well as further improve capacity utilisation of manufacturing companies in the country in the new year.

Last year, with the various industrial sector resuscitation funds released by the federal government taking full effect, the nation’s capacity utilisation rose from 46 per cent to around 52 per cent.

President Goodluck Jonathan, during the inauguration of the EMV certified smart card manufacturing plant of SecureID Limited in Lagos yesterday, explained that his administration had implemented policies to drive the growth of innovative products that would further aid the realisation of a digital economy.

Jonathan, who was represented by the Minister of  Communications and Technology, Mrs. Omobola Johnson, noted that with the cards market still growing as a result of growing needs of the teeming population, it has become necessary to discourage excessive importation of services that can be offered in the country.

He added that the commissioning of the factory is a concrete result of the present administration’s transformation agenda, stressing that government is unrelenting in its drive to encourage local investors to remain competitive in the country through favourable policy formulation and implementation.

Johnson, explained that capacity utilisation of factories is hinged on the ability to increase local content and boost patronage of goods and services being offered.

She said: “What we are witnessing is the result of a collaborative effort between the ministries of Finance, Communications Technology and Industry, Trade and Investment. Government has done its part in making the communications technology sector attractive by making tariffs commercially uncompetitive for importers, especially in areas where the country has capacity. We need to support these industries through increased patronage if they have to thrive in their businesses”.

Also speaking at the event, the Managing Director, Bank of Industry (BOI), Mr. Rasheed Olaoluwa, said the company has done very well and had also been ISO certified by credible international players in the industry, saying that it is in line with the Nigerian industrial Revolution plan (NIRP).

“This is the first of of its kind in sub Saharan Africa. The plant has been certified by all international players, it has a capacity to produce 200 million cards in a year. It also has the capacity to do any bank payment card, provide SIM cards for the telecom sector and a high security card to play a significant role in Nigeria’s identity card project,” he said.

He stated that the BOI has been able to support Secure ID in providing long-term facility, and expressed hope and confidence in the company’s efficient and effective long term operations for years to come.

“The commissioning is in the heart of BOI making an impact in our economic development. It is 100 per cent Nigerian owned, where about 95 per cent of the employees are Nigerians with a staff strength of 350 people,” he added.

The Chairman, Secure ID Limited, Mr. Adedotun Sulaimon, explained that the journey of the commissioning has not been easy, but stressed that the company was dogged and determined to get to where it is today.

He said the facility is a state-of-the-art outfit which boasts of quality and well trained staff to make it one of the top three smart services providers in the whole continent.

“Our staff are well trained, positioned and able to maintain our machines in the most efficient and effective manner,” he said.

The Managing Director, Secure ID Limited, Mrs. Kofo Akinkugbe, added that the first challenge the company had was building a local company to run on a global standard, stressing that the company had to change the orientation of its people to believe exporting products and services  from Nigeria is possible.

She also said the infrastructural deficit in the country is still a bottleneck hindering local production, but expressed hope that the federal government is on the right track to address the challenge in no distant time.

“We know that the federal government is a huge supporter of local content and we believe infrastructure issues will be resolved at some point soon,”she said.

She pointed out the need for smart services is key to Nigeria’s economic growth and security, considering the population of the country, adding that Nigeria can no longer depend on imports.

“We cannot continue to depend on importation and not just import, but import of technology and skills. We must develop the skills in our people and train ourselves to be able to make products with technology that is tailored to our environment,” she said.

“We have backward integrated in making the plastic itself in producing smart cards and our first job in this newly commissioned plant is from a bank in Ghana. We have the capacity to serve Nigeria and other parts of Africa,” she added.