FG denies suspension of sugar production as operators worry about BIP implementation
The Executive Secretary, National Sugar Development Council (NSDC), Zacch Adedeji, has assured Nigerians not to exercise fear on the shortage of sugar for consumption, stressing that there is enough to meet local needs of the people.
Adedeji said: “Let me make it clear that there is no suspension of sales or production of sugar in the country. As a matter of fact, we only consume 1.7 metric tonnes, which is less than five per cent of what we have in stock. The stock we have is far enough even to meet the Holy Ramadan period as well as the Christian Lenten season, so, there is no scarcity of sugar, people should not resort to panic buying.”
Adedeji gave the assurance Wednesday in Abuja, while answering questions from journalists after the formal presentation of the 2022 presidential approval for raw sugar quota allocations to refineries.
He said President Muhammadu Buhari had actually given approval to make sure stakeholders quarterly submit an audited action plan, even as he mandated partners in the sector such as the Central Bank of Nigeria, Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment, the Nigerian Customs to give zero duty to operators that key into the sugar backward integration programme (BIP).
The NSDC boss reminded operators that the council will not hesitate to sanction any company that violates the National Sugar Development Council Act which was passed into law in 2015.
Some of the operators that signed into the backward integration programme of the council expressed worry of a possible delay in its implementation.
In his remarks, the Managing Director of BUA Foods, Ayodele Ayodeji said that one of the major problems facing operators in the sugar industry today is lack of access to foreign exchange.
“One of our major problem is inaccessibility to foreign Exchange to import raw sugar, also, we have the challenge of importing our machineries for operations, my worry is that how soon will government implement these Presidential directives to enable us drive the sector faster?’’
Also speaking, KIA Group representative, Kenneth Iriogbe urged the government to make available to operators the needed foreign exchange that will guarantee more production, supply and distribution of sugar for local consumption and for exports.
A representative from the Ministry of Finance, Sadiq Usman called on the operators to ensure that all documents needed for the approval of foreign exchange are fully attached to all applications before submission.