The Federal Government’s commitment to support and encourage local manufacturing firms through access to cheap funds may soon be realised with the implementation of a reduced interest rate regime for local manufacturers in the first quarter of 2018.
The move government said, is underway following the National Industrial Policy and Competitive Advisory Council that was inaugurated by Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo, which is to device and supervise policies that will speed up Nigeria’s industrialisation bid.
The Minister of State for Industry, Trade and Investment, Hajia Aisha Abubakar disclosed this in Ota, Ogun State, during the inauguration of $50million sorghum malting and malt extract plant and tour of facility of Food, Agro and Allied Industries Limited, a subsidiary of Sona Group of Industries over the weekend.
According to her, under the industrial council, sub committees charged to tackle financing issues have made their presentations and interventions have been proposed that can be used to soften and ensure interest rates are reduced to encourage local industries.
“Everybody is talking about the interest rate and how the funds are coming is not good for the industry. It doesn’t work that way. There is a plan that we are trying to unfold definitely, it is that we are looking at and we hope that we can be able to come to an agreed decision on how best to do it. This is part of our plans to see what we can do quickly to speed up the industrialisation process.
“By first quarter of 2018, definitely there will be something put down to tackle the issues of financing as well as implementation,” the state minister said.
Abubakar, who commended Sona group on its contribution to the nation’s economy, pledged government’s support to tackle the company’s challenges mitigating ease of doing business.
“As government, it is our responsibility to continue to provide an enabling environment to the sectors where you are involved. We will go back and look at the sectors and see what the aggregate is for that sector for us to be able to come up with the aggregate to bear in that sector”, she added.
In his welcome address, the Group Chief Operating Officer, Sona Group, Ashok Manghnani, said the plant per day can produce 54 tonnes of malt and glucose syrup while it performs 25,000 tons per annum.
Already, he said the firm has pumped in £50million for the supply of more machinery from Europe noting that the shipment will arrive in the country by first quarter next year.
This he said, was to further expand production of its products, noting that the biscuits, plastics and packaging industries have began to experience more expansion.
Manghnani who said he was pleased with government’s drive in engaging local industries and allocation for sourcing of raw materials asked government to address some of its major challenges which he hinged on the deplorable state of the roads within the axis and issue of multiple taxation.
Earlier, the Group Managing Director of Sona Group, Ajai Musaddi who took the minister through facts and figures of its various units, said that the group’s products are also expanding its capacities across its subsidiaries.
He stated that the group has made huge investments in human capacity development and, especially in modern technology as many of its operation are now fully automated.
Musaddi disclosed that Sona group which has 12 units across it subsidiaries is the second largest employer of labour in Ogun state with over 2,000 direct employment and 8,000 indirect employment in its roll, adding that it has annual revenue of $146.50million and has invested $650million within the period of operations.
“This has enabled the company to increase its production capacity significantly and it’s now a major player in the export market, which holds a big opportunity for growth.
“Sona has equally made huge inroads into the biscuit market with huge investment in technology and human capital development. The company has been able to fill some of the supply gap created by the Forex crisis, which has made importation of premium biscuit from foreign markets unattractive.”