Garment industry, others seek sustainable policies for local production
With local producers, especially those in the garment industry stepping into the gap in the area of face mask production when global supply chains and importations were disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic, members of the Organised Private Sector have urged the Federal Government to be consistent in its policy intervention across the real sector.
According to the local producers, the pandemic is a double-edged sword that could be swung to the country’s advantage, especially in the area of local production if operators are supported.
The Founder & Chief Responsibility Officer of Ruff ‘n’ Tumble, Mrs. Adenike Ogunlesi, during a webinar organised by the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) 2020 Presidential Policy Dialogue, said the garment industry was able to produce one million masks when access to face masks became challenging.
“The garment industry was seriously affected by the pandemic but the sector has risen to the local needs when the supply chain was destroyed. A million masks were produced in the course of the pandemic. We have not been able to produce a million things before now. We need to sustain this trend with policies.
“Nigeria has the capacity to become the manufacturing hub of the continent and even globally. However, we need consistent policy intervention to address this. The local market is there in terms of volume and demand. The machines that we have are computerised but access to power is also a great constraint. There is a huge opportunity in the garment industry. Nigeria can take the advantage. COVID-19 is a double-edged sword that can be used to our advantage,” she added.
Chief Executive Officer, Ladol, Amy Jadesimi, advocated the use of blended finance to address funding challenges in the country.
“We should engage the DFIs to put in place financial products that focus on the definition of bankability as one that encourages sustainable models, so that we can attract needed funding,” she said.
On his part, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, said that execution of the sustainability measures contained in the Economic Sustainability Plan (ESP) intended to boost production, prevent business collapse and provide liquidity, were underway.
He added that the ESP would also engender the promotion of labour-intensive methods and direct labour interventions in key areas like agriculture, manufacturing, housing and facility maintenance.
Osinbajo also disclosed plans to deepen the Social Investment Programmes and safety nets in areas like cash transfer, N-Power, extension of home-grown school feeding programmes to all states of the federation, among others.
“Nigeria, like all other countries, has been quite seriously impacted in various ways by the COVID-19 pandemic, either as households or businesses, and is clear that both the pandemic and its effects would remain for a while.
“The priority of the Federal Government to the challenges posed by COVID-19 is essentially to ward off a deep recession and to save jobs by a mixture of stimulus measures to support local businesses.
“Some of its key provisions include: jobs for food creating a targeted five million jobs for Nigerians; increased infrastructure investment on roads, bridges, solar power and communication technologies.
“Also, are the jobs through homes, which would engage teams of young artisans and improve local manufacturing by the intentional use of local products for construction.
“Part of the stimulus package is to make the government the buyers of last resort.
“This is to ensure that the whole question of demand, which is weakened at the moment, is strengthened as the government stands ready to be purchaser.
“We are not under any illusions that we can achieve this on our own as everything would have to be done lockstep with the private sector,” he said.
Osinbajo added that the ESP also included a solar powering project targeted at providing electricity through the private sector for five million households with solar power in rural or underserved areas.
LCCI President, Mrs Toki Mabogunje, underscored the need for regular engagements and communication on policy issues to ensure quality feedback and enrich the policy making process.
According to her, such a process should cover macroeconomic policies, sectoral policies. These will include foreign exchange policy, Trade policy, Tax policy, Energy policy, Transport policy, Industrial policy, Agricultural policy, ICT policy, among others.
“Some of these are cross cutting, while others are sector specific. Regular engagement with relevant stakeholders in the various sectors will bring a great deal of value to the economic management process. The regulatory environment also needs to align with this vision,” she added.
Also, Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Niyi Adebayo, highlighted the current administration’s strategy at improving the nation’s ease of doing business situation by the creation of the Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council (PEBEC).
Adebayo said the current administration had adopted a call to action approach in tackling security challenges as evident in the budgetary allocation to provide necessary tools and equipment for respective security forces.
“Nigeria requires an estimated three trillion dollars over the next 30 years to upscale its infrastructure.
“The current administration has also taken steps to resolve power generation issues in its plan to revitalise the sector and improve power generation to 25,000 watts by 2025.
“On corruption, the government is persistently restructuring its implementation agencies such as the ICPC and EFCC to limit the level of corrupt practices in the public sector,” he said.
Adebayo reiterated the current administration’s disposition at taking significant steps to address the nation’s infrastructure challenges in spite of its limited resources.