Govt crowding businesses out of debt market

•As Sokoto Cement declared N1.2bn PAT

Chairman of BUA Group of Companies, Alhaji Abdulsamad Rabiu on Thursday lamented the dominance of government in the debt market saying the situation has driven interest rates to minimum of 22 percent for private businesses.

Abdulsamad who spoke at the Transcorp Hilton, Abuja during the annual general meeting of Sokoto Cement, which is a member of the BUA Group said that the company had a turnover of N13.037 billion during the 2015 financial year.

He lamented that government is currently borrowing at 16 percent and this has made it difficult for the private sector which cannot compete with government and businesses are not forced to borrow at 22 percent.

While commending efforts of Central Bank of Nigeria for mandating that at least 60 percent of foreign exchange must be allocated to manufacturing sector, Abdulsamad however, said since there is limited availability of foreign exchange, whatever was available would still have to be pro-rated.

The company declared a profit after tax of N1, 201,108,049 during the year under consideration as against N1,918,361,854 in 2014.

He also announced an increase in the company’s power plant to 16 megawatts completed in December 2015.

“What we are doing is struggle to continue in business and make some profit”, he noted while also saying that the location of Sokoto Cement was an advantage because it was far from other competitors even when its products are first class.

Nonetheless, the BUA Group Chairman said the cost of doing business had been further escalated by the astronomical rise in the cost of diesel and low pour fuel oil in the last one year.

“We pray that things get better but I am not sure. I have to be realistic. Forex comes mainly from crude oil export and both production and price of the product have considerably gone down. There is no magic and without forex, things will continue to be dire”, he told his shareholders who express happiness that the company was able to issue 10 kobo dividend despite the huge challenges against 35 kobo in 2014.