…Commends Buhari administration for consistent efforts to sustain growth trajectory
…Nigeria’s decision on AFCFTA will be guided by National interest – Buhari insists
The Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) has said that despite the significant progress recorded in the last 4 years of the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari, ‘it is clear that our economy is still fragile.’
Disclosing this on Wednesday when he led the National Council of the association on courtesy visit to President Buhari at the Presidential Villa Abuja, MAN president, Engr. Mansur Ahmed, said ‘‘with the GDP at 2.0 per cent and below the population growth rate, the clouds are still threatening and the task of driving the economy upwards is still enormous”.
He said members of the association were however encouraged by the strong commitment the President expressed in his Democracy Day address last week to revamp the economy.
‘‘You did say that in your second term, your administration will do, even more, not only to continue to drive the economy on the path of sustained growth but indeed to create a more inclusive and sustainable economy,’’ the MAN president said.
The MAN president outlined some credible policies that have driven the economy forward in the first term of President Buhari.
He commended the Buhari administration for consistent efforts to sustain the growth trajectory anchored on improving the business environment and recognised the government’s efforts at improving the Ease of Doing Business Project, fight against corruption, focus on poverty reduction, job creation and inclusive growth as well as the launch of the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan.
Responding to the issue raised by the association regarding the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), President Buhari said that Nigeria will be guided by national interest in taking any decision on the agreement establishing the AfCFTA.
The AfCFTA was introduced in March 2018 with 52 out of 55 countries already signed to the agreement and 18 have ratified it. Only 22 countries are required to ratify the agreement for it to come into effect and Nigeria has not sign the agreement.
But President Buhari, while receiving the National Council of the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), said that he was ready to receive the report of a Committee set up to assess the potential costs and impact of signing the agreement establishing the AfCFTA for Nigeria.
The President recalled that the Presidential Steering Committee on the AfCFTA Impact and Readiness Assessment Committee was inaugurated on October 22, 2018, with the mandate to assess the extent to which Nigeria was ready to join the agreement, and what the impact of doing so would be.
The Committee was initially given 12 weeks to conclude its assignment, after holding wide consultations with industry groups and stakeholders, including the MAN.
The President told National Council of MAN that the AfCFTA is on the agenda for the upcoming AU Summit in Niamey, Niger Republic, in July.
‘‘I don’t think Nigeria has the capacity to effectively supervise and to ensure that our colleagues in AU don’t allow their countries to be used to dump goods on us to the detriment of our young industries and our capacity to utilize foreign exchange for imported goods,’’ he said.
President Buhari also promised to look into the presentation by MAN highlighting issues of concern to the manufacturing sector, namely the AfCFTA, Export Expansion Grant and other incentives, challenges with the 2019 fiscal policy measures, recent increase in NAFDAC charges, the Industrial Development (Income Tax Relief) (Amendment) Act, 2019, among others.
‘‘I assure you that I know the enormity of our problems in terms of population growth rate and teeming young people.
‘‘We need to move very fast, and the government will try and encourage you as very much as possible so that the problem of unemployment and the provision of other services relative to our population and state of development can be tolerated,’’ he said.