The Vice President of Manufacturers Association of Nigeria, Dr Stella Okoli, on Sunday, said local manufacturers had lost well over N300billion to unstable economic policies which had precipitated a distress in the economy.
Media reports have it that the local manufacturers have lost about N300 billion to the development, but Okoli insisted that the figure was much higher than what was being bandied about.
According to her, forex policies in the country, as well as high interest rate payment have constrained the manufacturing industry in the country, thus making it difficult for the industry to thrive.
Okoli, who is also the Managing Director of Emzor Pharmaceutical Industries Limited, said the country’s forex policy had negatively affected manufacturers, saying lack of access to forex had hampered manufacturing activities in the country.
“Last year, we bought dollars at between N170 and N200 but now we buy at N350. You can see how this is affecting the manufacturing industry negatively,” she said.
She explained that although manufacturers could bid at N282 at the interbank rates, “what I have discovered is that we don’t get what we bid for. We were told that if we had bidded at over N280, we would get all the money we wanted even if it is a billion dollars but those who bidded lower than N280 will have to wait till about three to four months to get the forex they need.
“Now, the problem here is that our monies are tied up with the bank, which means we don’t have access to our Naira or the forex that we have bidded for and this is affecting our business.”
Okoli, who lamented that many companies in the manufacturing industry are closing down, while those still in operations are laying off staff, said new policies are needed to make the local manufacturing industry competitive in the international community.
The Emzor Pharmaceutical boss also said the fact that the government owes the pharmaceutical industry for the production of antiretroviral drugs at the instance of the government over three years ago was not encouraging the industry to grow.
She therefore, called on the government to articulate policies that will protect the manufacturing industry, “because without manufacturing, we are dead. We need to fix our country.
“Government must formulate policies that would engender the growth of manufacturing, and regulatory agencies must work together to ensure smoother exports,” she counseled.