Nigeria Labour News

Govt set to review 500% tariff on local beverages

The Federal Government is considering the imposition of 500% tariff on locallly manufactured alcoholic beverages that could eradicate about 200,000 jobs. The Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige who disclosed this while hosting the National Union of Food, Beverage and Tobacco Joint Employers and Workers Association in his office in Abuja, acknowledged that the move may lead to closure of factories. Ngige said: “You have written to the Federal Government through me that the increase in excise duty on alcohol and beverages will result in job losses because once you add a new cost and pass it on, there will be consumer resistance, resulting in low patronage whereas the products coming from overseas that are being smuggled in which are cheap, will take over the market. It is a statement of fact.

“I have passed your complaints and luckily we have a listening President who wants the good of all Nigerians. He will definitely ask the Minister of Finance and the economic management team to review the tariff. We cannot afford to create poverty and job losses here while promoting abundant jobs in other countries. Job losses are not part of this government and will not support the 500% tariff increase.” The Minister said the Economic and Recovery Growth Plan (ELGP) of the Federal Government was partly tailored towards job creation rather than the locals did losses, saying that the Executive Order No. 1 and 4 were for job creation as well as ensuring that jobs are created. He added that the cardinal place job creation and protection occupy informed the administration’s fidelity to non-declaration of redundancy in the Federal Ministries and Agencies, which has ensured no retrenchment of workers took place even in the face of economic hardship.

He added: “This is not to say that we don’t know that in some places available jobs have more than available staff members to match them but this is a compassionate administration. The President does not want to throw many families into anguish. The President always said that he was a salary earner in all his working life. You can also see that we did not place an embargo on recruitment as we used to have years ago even while we were under recession. The Federal Government has been replacing staff members who exited as well as creating new jobs in the public sector. But this has to be complemented with the private sector jobs to have a full blend.” He also said the stoic resolve of the President to the policy of non-retrenchment made him further push the policy down to the states through Federal Economic Council to ensure that no worker is sacked at any level of the Federation, saying, “otherwise some of the Governors who can’t salaries would have retrenched by now. He has also followed it up with various bail-out funds, Paris Club Refund etc. to the state governments.”

Further buttressing the commitment of the Federal Government to the welfare of workers, the Minister referred to the staff housing programme for workers being operated by the office of the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation, under the Federal Integrated Staff Housing (FISH) as well as other housing programmes meant to provide cheap houses to Nigerian workers. The Minister said: “The Federal Government who has this level of commitment to the upliftment of the Nigerian workers cannot resort to any measure that can trigger job losses. We will certainly not commit to any policy that will make us lose two hundred thousand jobs.” He further assured the delegation that the Federal Government through the Custom and Excise Department was working round the clock to tame the activities of smugglers so as to save local industries. Earlier in their address, the leader of the delegation and the Acting General Secretary of the Union, Mike Olarenwaju, cataloguing the plight of the association, said the 500% tariff increase by the Ministry of Finance on their products was counter-productive as the measure was an assured destruction of the sector.

“It will kill investments, it is already creating palpable fear in the operators, jobs losses is looming while imported products will displace local goods for reasons of smuggling and cheapness,” he appealed to the Minster. He explained that they were on ‘Save Our Soul’ mission to the Minister to save the sector from going the way of the textile industry as well as prevent the loss of about 200, 000 jobs with the attendant economic and social consequences. “We have run to you as our last hope. Your antecedent in protecting the cause of the workers, that you have zero tolerance for anything that hurts the workforce is source of our confidence that the 500% tariff on our products, which spells doom for the sector will be looked into by the government. They further raised fears on the displacement of workers by the creeping automation regime in the industries to which the Minister assured that the demerits of new technology would be modulated by policy of compliance to Corporate Social Responsibility Policy in order to give jobs to the locals where the industries are sited.

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