The stakeholders, who include the Nigeria Labour Congress, Manufacturers Association of Nigeria, Distillers and Blenders Association of Nigeria, and Association of Food Beverage and Tobacco Employers of Nigeria, expressed their displeasure over the proposed duty hike in separate submissions to the Senate Committee on Finance at a public hearing on the matter.
The committee had, in line with the resolution of the Senate in May this year, organised the public hearing on ‘The Urgent Need to Review the Excise Tariff Increment in Order to Save Local Distillers of Beverages from Looming Extinction’.
Various speakers at the hearing said the proposed excise duty review, which would be anchored on the recommendation by the Tariff Technical Committee, would run the affected manufacturers and producers out of business and render millions of Nigerians jobless.
The Chairman, DIBAN, Mr Patrick Anegbe, warned that if the policy was implemented, N420bn worth of investments would be ruined, while 250,000 workers would lose their jobs.
The representative of the labour unions at the hearing, Mr Mike Olanrewaju, described the proposed 500 per cent excise duty increment as suicidal, stating that it must not be allowed to be implemented.
According to him, the proposed policy is dead on arrival, especially as labour and other critical stakeholders were not consulted on it.
He said, “One of the strategies expected from any responsible and responsive government in preventing crime and fighting poverty is job creation and not job losses through outrageous and outlandish tariff hikes that will collapse industries, and by extension, render millions of Nigerians jobless.
“To us in the labour sector, it is capital no to such tariff increase, and if any increase is to be made at all, it should not be above one digit. The proposed increase is counterproductive and will be resisted by all stakeholders because after Dunlop, Michelin, etc., we don’t want any industry to collapse or relocate out of the country again.”
Though the Director-General, MAN, Mr Segun Kadiri, said the Federal Ministry of Finance and TTC consulted the association on the proposed tariff hike, he stated that the rate agreed upon on the basis of revenue generation by the government was not what the ministry eventually proposed.
However, the Director of Legal Services, Ministry of Finance, who represented the minister, Kemi Adeosun, argued that the 500 per cent hike was agreed upon by all stakeholders before the ministry issued a circular to that effect in February this year.
“Protests and petitions trailing the circular since then from concerned stakeholders are to us, unfortunately,” he said.
The committee, at the end of the session, told the stakeholders that the legislature would renegotiate the rate with the executive to ensure a downward review of the proposed excise duty payment.
Earlier in his opening remarks, the Deputy President of the Senate, Ike Ekweremadu, who represented the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, said, “The major source of concern is the non-inclusion of primary stakeholders in the industry such as the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria and the Distillers and Beverages Association in the consultation process that prompted the decision of the executive arm of government to increase the tariff rates of the affected products.”