Food workers seek FG’s intervention to avert sector’s collapse
The Food, Beverage and Tobacco Senior Staff Association (FOBTOB) has called on the Federal Government to save the already struggling companies in the sector from total collapse.
The appeal, the union said, was coming on the heels of the many challenges confronting the sector, among which is the current debate on the justification for the introduction of excise duty on non-alcoholic carbonated drinks, which is currently a subject of discussion among the National Assembly, the Customs and the Finance Ministry.
President of FOBTOB, Jimoh Oyibo, at a media briefing, said, the government’s justification was based on the belief that non-alcoholic drinks manufacturers were making fortunes of about 30 per cent excise levy on alcoholic drinks, which does not tally.
He lamented that there was no justification to subject companies that are struggling to survive to another level of financial burden.
He called on the Federal Government to engage all stakeholders constructively, to arrive at a more beneficial conclusion to save the already struggling companies in the sector that are only surviving on a small profit margin.
He bemoaned the influx of expatriates into the sector, stating that it was disheartening and unacceptable to the union even as it struggles to save jobs.
He said the attitude has led to continuous loss of jobs that ought to be exclusive reserves of indigenous workers.
He said the union will not relent until the influx of expatriates taking over their jobs is reduced to the barest minimum.
While describing the government’s backward integration as a good move that is capable of stimulating economic development, most especially in the manufacturing sector, the major concern being raised by the players in the industry, Oyibo said, was the fact that the union has not often been engaged and even where such consultation exists, it is shallow without any depth.
The FOBTOB boss stressed that consultation on issues of backward integration should be robust and all-encompassing, adding that banditry, insecurity and kidnapping, among others, were affecting backward integration.
Among other challenges, Oyibo, mentioned the issue of difficulty in the supply chain, saying “during the lockdown, the laxity in the supply chain, which is critical to economic recovery in Nigeria, became evident, and from that time, several attempts made to put this in the right direction have not yielded the desired result.”
He said failure to address this may lead to the crash of the economy, stating that responses of government agencies saddled with the responsibility to contain the challenge had been extremely poor.
He expressed fear that if the issues were not effectively tackled and given urgent attention, it might push some of the companies in the sector to close down due to their inability to break even, “which will eventually lead to massive loss of jobs in a country with over 33 per cent unemployment rate.”
The union called on government and stakeholders to urgently come to the rescue of the sector, and also put in place policies that will drive the progress of the industry so that companies that are creating jobs will not be vulnerable.