By Rukayat Moisemhe
The Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) has urged its members to sustain ongoing operations and scale up production of essential commodities needed to curtail the spread of COVID-19.
In a statement by its President, Mansur Ahmed, MAN applauded the efforts of government since the nation recorded its first case in February.
He said it was imperative for stringent actions to be taken by the world and indeed, the nation to help its citizens adjust and cope with the pandemic.
“As the voice of manufacturers’ interest in Nigeria, the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) recognizes the efforts of government from the point Nigeria recorded its first case.
“It is also comforting to note that the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) are not resting on their oars through drafting of the different protocols for safety disseminated to the general public all in a bid to ensure the safety of citizens,” he said.
Ahmed advised members to adequately sensitize and educate workers on compliance with National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) guidelines to curb the spread of coronavirus.
He also urged that members provide requisite facilities and supplies for the prevention of COVID-19 in line with extant guidelines of the NCDC.
“Given the fundamental role manufacturers will be playing at a time like this, they have been encouraged to sustain ongoing operations to avoid reduction or shut down of production activities.
“They should also scale up their production especially of essential commodities such pharmaceuticals, consumables, sanitary and hygiene products needed to curtail the spread of the virus (COVID-19),” he said.
The MAN president also appealed to the government to provide safety nets to ensure seamless operations as manufacturers adhere to safety rules to keep the economy running.
He urged that government ensured reasonable access to industrial supplies and inputs such as gas, electricity supply, fuel and other essential infrastructure needs.
He also advocated that the financial support offered by Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) be extended to the supply of forex to the manufacturing sector at pre-COVID-19 rates.
Ahmed urged the CBN to consider directing commercial banks to freeze interest charges in the event of a lock down.
“In the case of an eventual lockdown, government should consider the introduction of fiscal measures such as waivers on import duties on Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients (APIs), and other essential products.
“Also, they should extend tax holiday to companies on corporate tax, and waive the Value Added Tax (VAT); and reduce the burden of personal income tax as a way of increasing the disposable income of an average Nigerian worker.
“Government should ensure its agencies do not act contrary to its directive of permitting essential manufacturing sectors to operate.
“For emphasis, we would enjoin the general public to take seriously the protective measure of regular hand washing with soap and water or use of alcohol-based hand sanitizers, practice of good personal hygiene; maintenance of social distancing.
“We also advice that members sufficiently stay abreast of additional directives from the National Centre for Disease Control and World Health Organization,” he said. (NAN)