• Tuesday, July 16, 2024
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BusinessDay

FG urged to check high tariff on building materials

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The Federal Government has been urged to lower customs tariff on building materials, which is currently very high, to encourage local players in the industry.

Chidi Onuoha, chairman/CEO, Canon Continental Limited (interior decoration expert) who made the call, said, “Customs tariff on building materials is on the high side, so government should look into bringing it down. Beyond that, if they can work on our steel sector and power, one can then think of local production of the ceiling materials.”

On the requirement for prospective entrepreneurs in interior decoration, Onuoha, who specialised in ceiling and acoustical insulation, said: “It doesn’t take much. They will need people that have been there for direction and mentorship and then, of course, money. You need to acquire the skills and capital just like any other business.”

Speaking on how the materials are sourced, the entrepreneur said: “For now, we are not producing here because the machines are not here. The modern ceiling is currently imported and I know as the sector develops, particularly the iron and still sector, we may be looking inwards for the materials. Again, for this kind of ceiling to be produced here locally, Nigeria has to develop the iron and steel industry.”

He also explained that his partnership with the Israelis had enhanced his success in the business.

“My partnership with the Israelis taught me a lot. Firstly, the materials produced there are unique, the technology excellent. They are sound proof, fire rating fantastic and the best. The rain drop sound proof superb, reptiles and rodents such as snake, lizard and rats well checkmated. The doors are special and simply the best. Secondly, as I said earlier, they made me understand the world of ceiling and ceiling business. They are honest people to do business with as long as you work according to your agreement with them,” he said.

Placing a value on interior décor business in the country, the CEO said the huge potential in the interior decoration sector was yet to be fully tapped.

“The truth is that interior decoration potential is yet to be tapped fully in the country. My son, your son etc, will like to build and this goes on. As stated earlier, for ordinary Nigerians, when they talk about ceiling, they think asbestos or the ordinary ceiling board. But for the modern ones, the thinking goes to things like perforated metal clips that could cost as much as N7, 300 per square meter (m2), the likes of grid installations, and the list goes on. These are highly fire rated materials with unique outlook to the extent that roof leakages don’t affect them.

“So the value is so much to be estimated. The ceilings of ten years ago are no longer in vogue. Plaster of Paris (POP) that reigned about ten years ago is no longer in vogue. It is now being replaced by other ceiling technologies like the plaster board. The window blinds have gone from fabrics to metal window blinds like Venetian and wooden blinds of various shapes and sizes for offices and homes. The value and potential are very huge” he said.

On his future plans in the business, he said he would like to contribute more to the development of business in the country.

“My future plan is to contribute to a larger extent, to the development of interior decoration business in the country. As I said earlier, we have not started yet. There are lots of new developments in the sector. So, I want to see how to become a rolling mill for this business in the country,” he said.

Zebulon Agomuo