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Manufacturers want Trade, Investment Ministry separated

By Louis Iba

LOCAL manufacturers are seeking an end to the merger of the real sector with the Trade and Investment Ministry manned by a cabinet minister.
According to the manufacturers, the circumstances that led to the merger on the orders of former President Good­luck Jonathan was to allow a harmoni­ous and mutually beneficial relationship between individuals and cooperate in­vestors and foreign missions involved in industrial, trade and investment busi­nesses have been achieved and that it was time to chart a new course.
President/CEO of Erisco Group, Chief Eric Umeofia, who spoke over the weekend, argued that it was faulty to continue to merge the industry ministry with those of trade and investment given the huge challenges facing the industrial sector.
Umeofia urged President Muham­madu Buhai to revert to the former sta­tus and name a new Industry Minister whose focus would be on how to re­suscitate the many moribund industries in the country as well as ensure the es­tablishment of new ones. The fall in the price of crude oil, Umeofia said, necessi­tated the emergence of vibrant industries to assist Nigeria diversify its economy.
Merging the industry in charge of the real sector with those of trade and investments won’t permit that kind of special attention required to get speedy results, Umeofia said.
He said given the recent depreciation of the naira against the dollar, the gov­ernment should develop policies that will allow the flow of foreign exchange from Nigerians in the Diaspora into the establishment of new manufacturing firms in the country.
“There should be government poli­cies that are made to favour Nigerians abroad so that they can look inward and repatriate the dollars into the manufac­turing sector,” Umeofia said.
“I also propose the separation of the industry ministry from trade and invest­ment so that more focus is given to the problems and challenges facing indus­tries in Nigeria. We should sacrifice for a short term so that we may benefit in the long term.
“The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) must also task commercial banks to sup­port indigenous manufacturing firms so that they can grow and be profitable and contribute to the efforts to diversify the economy,” he added.
He said manufacturers will appreci­ate if those appointed to replace the re­cently sacked Director Generals/CEOs of NAFDAC and SON were persons of high integrity with values geared to pro­moting the local manufacturing sector.