…Calls for halt to tax collection conflicts
Manufacturers who gathered in Port Harcourt from across Nigeria have mourned what they called steady shutdown of factories in Rivers State. This is as the national leadership of manufacturers has demanded end to conflict of tax collection especially on haulage fees.
Manufacturers in the south had for years lamented over shutdowns beginning with Michelin, RIVOC, NEW, and many more. They said the Trans-Amadi Industrial Area that was bubbling with factories is now a shadow of itself without most administration perturbed.
The Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) in the Rivers/Bayelsa chapter said this is the time to reactivate factories and restore the state as a manufacturing hub in the south-south.
The MAN chapter Chairman, Vincent Okuku, said in his welcome address at the annual general meeting and conference/exhibition that the steady shutdown forced the association to consider the kind of theme they chose; re-igniting industries in south-south.
Okuku, an elder, said it is important to know that for jobs to be created, there must be factories for jobs to be created, and that factories create wealth.
He dwelt on the need to explore new areas of productivity including solid minerals and agriculture to ensure steady supply of primary goods.
He also pointed at the non-oil sector which he said should be intensified in the south-south and called for boost to rail transportation just as he drew the attention of the Federal Government to the Onne Road.
Okuku commended the governors of Rivers and Bayelsa States and said their absence was understandable. He said AGM was a good opportunity to brief the governors on how to begin the industrialization of the two states and transform the south-south.
Okuku advised the two states to consult MAN when formulating economic and industrial policies.
He went further to name some of the challenges that he said severely impacted MAN’s activities such as difficulty of sourcing foreign exchange, high cost of power, and non-friendly operating environment.
He showed appreciation to corporate bodies that supported in the successful hosting of the MAN AGM 2023 such as the Rivers State Government, Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC), the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Bank of Industry (BoI), and the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB) as well as other important dignitaries that graced the two days event.
Speaking, the MAN national president, Francis Meshioye, highly commended the chapter chairman, Okuku, saying the national leadership was aware of how hard he worked to make sure the AGM was not put off after the incident that developed in the state on Monday, October 30, 2023 concerning the attempt to impeach the host governor and the resistance that followed.
The president said MAN AGM was mandatory accountability activity which he said also added opportunity to engage their partners and government on sensitive issues.
Meshioye said: “We are all aware of government’s reform measures including subsidy removal, foreign exchange single window, removal of ban on 41 imported items, etc. The consequences have led to the theme of this AGM which is about re-igniting industrialization and entrepreneurship in the south-south region.
“We trust that the guest speakers will show us the way out. The poor performance of the economy in past few years has made it imperative by state governments to partner with MAN because it has dawned on many states that only by partnering with the manufacturers can they create jobs for the teeming youths.”
He said MAN national leadership applauded the Rivers State government for improved road networks in at least eight local council areas of Rivers State
The MAN national president however emphasized the need for Governments at the state level to harmonise taxes to reduce crudity and molestation from tax officers to taxpayers especially business people. He observed that harmonious tax systems form the backbone of industrialization drive in any well-meaning society
He advised that governments should appoint MAN members in boards of government agencies to reduce policy summersault
He decried conflicts between state and federal governments over haulage fees and other levies. He said MAN must continue to strive for job creation and economic prosperity of the states and the nation.
He also made it clear that MAN will continue to champion this and ensure that complaints of members reached the government. He assured that the national leadership was not tired of fighting for the members, but urged them to fulfil their obligations such annual subscription and filling the inquiries form for effective feedback that would help the government to know what was pinching manufacturers.
He added that it was by coming together that manufacturers can overcome their challenges.
Highlights of the Day One include technical presentations on how the South-South could re-ignite industrialisation presented by Pacqueens Irabor of the Bank of Industry, and Ubani Nkaginieme, CEO of Total Support Energy.