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OPS TASKS COMMERCE AND INDUSTRY MINISTER ON SMUGGLING, TARIFFS

By NBF NEWS
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The Organised Private Sector has urged the new Minster of Commerce and Industry, Alhaji Jubril Martins-Kuye to tackle irregular tariffs and smuggling of goods into the country

Some of the OPS members told the News Agency of Nigeria on Wednesday in Lagos that the issues had become obstacles to the growth of the nation's economy.

The President of Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Mr. Femi Deru, said that smuggling had taken a serious dimension and had caused the extinction of many industries.

According to Deru, if the issues are not treated with dispatch they may exterminate more industries in the country.

The Chairman, Lafarge Cement Plc, Chief Olusegun Osunkeyi, said that he was optimistic that the new minister's finance background would solve the alleged harsh tariff regime.

He said, 'We want a situation that manufacturers are not at a disadvantage because of irregular tariffs.

'It should be a serious concern to the minister that the smugglers are about to kill other industries.

'They have killed the tyre and textile industries and others are at the verge of collapse,'' he said.

Osunkeyi urged the Federal Government to ensure prompt payment of Export Promotion Grant, which was meant to cushion the challenges in the sector.

The President of the National Association of Chambers of Commerce, Mines, Industry and Agriculture, South-South Group, Mr. Billy Harry, said that the new minister should hold a stakeholders' forum as soon as possible to have first-hand information on the sector.

Harry also urged the minister to liaise with his counterpart in the power sector to improve electricity supply, which would consequently reduce the cost of doing business in the country.

''You have a limited time to act, so do not remain in the comfort of your office and wait for courtesy visits to discuss the sector's issues,'' Harry said.

The President of Rice, Importers, Millers and Dealers Association of Nigeria, Alhaji Mufutau Gbadamosi, urged the government to review its trade relationship with the Republic of Benin.

Gbadamosi said that the review was necessary to address the issue of smuggling.

'It's a terrible situation that some unscrupulous importers smuggle goods that can even be produced locally to the detriment of majority of Nigerians.

'I think their actions undermined the strength and unity of Nigeria as a country,'' he said

According to him, if the issues of smuggling and high tariffs were addressed, the nation's industrial battered sector will bounce back.

The Director General of the Textiles Manufacturers Association of Nigeria, Jolayemi Olarewaju, advised the minister to fast-track the disbursement of the N100bn textile revival fund.

He said that such would create a robust labour market for the teeming youths and create wealth.