President Manufacturers Association of Nigeria Dr Frank Udemba Jacob in this interview with the Publisher/Editor-in-Chief Dr Samuel Ibiyemi on the sideline of the annual award dinner of the Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria (CIBN) recently spoke on challenges of manufacturers and intervention of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN). Excerpts.
What is your view on access to loanable funds by members of MAN?
As far as manufacturers are concerned, the interest rate is too high. So,we expect the Money Policy Rate ( MPR) to come down significantly. Our hope is that manufacturers should be able to access funds at five percent interest rate. Whichever way government does that to achieve that , that is what we are asking for because that is the only way we can grow the manufacturing sector. That is the way we can truly encourage government policy on backward integration as well as other plans the government has to drive this economy.
The government is planning to roll out its recession recovery plan by the end of this year, what do you expect for the manufacturing sector?
I think if they can make Foreign Exchange readily available to the manufacturers to be able to import the essential raw materials apart from those raw materials that can be sourced locally, they can also reduce the interest rate significantly. I think the manufacturing sector should be able to play the role they are supposed to play in order to drive this economy.
Are you impressed with the allocation of foreign exchange to manufacturers as a follow up to the recent forex policy of CBN giving opportunities to manufacturers?
I believe that the CBN has done very well for the manufacturing sector. They have come up with excellent intervention programmes but I dare say that the commercial banks are not cooperating. The 60 per cent that is supposed to be allocated to manufacturers out of the total Forex in the market, we have not seen anything coming to our members. recently $500 million and $314 million were released to the futures market yet only very few of my members benefitted. I do not know if it is because the amount that was released is too small compared to their requirement or because the commercial banks are not cooperating as they should.
What is your take on the Made in Nigeria campaign?
The Made in Nigeria campaign is the best thing that has ever happened to manufacturers. We are happy that government is pushing it, manufacturers are pushing it and we expect the Nigerian populace to do the same. If we patronise Made in Nigeria, our manufacturing sector would grow and through that the economy would also grow.
What is your reaction to the recent relocation of Erisco from Nigeria in view of the Forex allocation by CBN
It is really unfortunate that Erisco is relocating but then every businessman has the right to make decision that suits him. He blamed the Forex crunch and also his views that the CBN is not supporting him. I don’t understand it fully and i cannot criticise either himself or CBN. I think it is a business decision that they have to make.