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Operators seek elimination of tariff on printing raw materials

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• As shareholders urge diversification to boost revenue

To boost local production, operators in the printing industry have stressed the need for the government to remove tariffs on raw materials for printing.
   
The Managing Director, Academy Press Plc. Olugbenga Ladipo, decried that the government imposed tariffs on local producers, while importers of finished products are not tasked with any obligation.
   
Speaking in an interview with The Guardian at 56th virtual yearly general meeting of the Academy Press, Ladipo noted that the present tariff structure in Nigeria does not allow for a level-playing field between the local producers and the importers of finished products.

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According to him, with the devastating effect of COVID-19 pandemic, there is a need for the government to support the industry by imposing tariffs on imported finished goods, and eliminating charges on raw materials to grow indigenous firms.
   
“The tariff structure is against local production. We suffer tariff while people that bring in imported products do not pay tariff and that is a lopsided system.
   
“What we are clamouring for is for us to operate on a level-playing field so that people importing and people producing will compete favourably.” He added: “In America, China and India, the government puts more tariffs on finished goods and probably puts a quarter of that on the material to boost their local companies. That is the sensible thing to do.”
   
Academy Press Chairman, Wahab Dabiri, while addressing shareholders at the meeting, said the Nigerian printing industry is still largely influenced by foreign players with their local partners as print jobbers and brokers to the detriment of local investors.
   
According to him, government’s spending on books and sensitive prints rarely benefit genuine local printers.
   
“We implore the authorities to commit sincerely to the local contents agenda for the industry, and eliminate the exploits of the market. We need to look inwards with all benefits, especially employment of our youths.
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“The environment has been tough for the industry and the economy in recent times. We are poised to turn difficulties to opportunities as we learn to cope with the new normal.”

“We will continue with our advocacy to ensure that the government evaluates policy changes that will support genuine local operators.”
Reviewing its 2019 performance, he said the company’s revenue rose marginally by 0.3 per cent to N2.44 billion from N2.43 billion recorded in 2018.”
   
However, he said finance-related costs increased considerably and eroded the little gains from operations, resulting in a loss before tax of N31 million, against marginal profit of N1.3 million achieved in 2018.

A member of Lagos Zone Shareholders Association, Theophilus Adegboye, urged the company to do everything within its powers to boost revenue in the next financial year.

“We should look into the possibility of jacking up revenue. The expenses are managed but the problem is that our revenue has not increased,” he said.

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