‘Nigeria loses over ₦1trillion to foreign printing firms patronised by INEC, UBEC, others’
The Chartered Institute of Professional Printers of Nigeria (CIPPON) on Monday said Nigeria is losing ₦1trillion revenue to the patronage of foreign firms in the printing industry.
CIPPON blamed the development on the heavy reliance of Federal Government major spenders like the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and the Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC) on foreign printers adding that it was killing the local printing firms.
It charged the Federal Government to come up with policies that would make it compulsory for those commissions to stop patronising foreign printing firms.
National president of CIPPON, Mr. Olugbemi Malomo, made the request in Abuja at the Nigerian International Paper and Pulp Summit.
He lamented that the country was importing printed material worth over N1trn on annual basis, a situation he noted was not good for the nation’s economy.
The event was tagged ‘Bridging The Gap In Local Pulp And Paper Production in Nigeria’, and declared open by the Minister of Industry, Trade And Investments, Otunba Adeniyi Adebayo.
Malomo said: “A few months from now we shall be having our general elections. Hundreds of thousands of tons of paper costing the nation billions of naira will be used in the elections, and I want you to know that all the papers will be imported.
“If we are going to make meaningful development, and move from a consumer nation to a production one ,we need a paradigm shift whereby big government spenders like INEC and UBEC should be using our money to develop local production capacity”
Malomo further stated that “With 60 pe rcent of Nigeria’s population in one school or the other, over 1. 2 billion books are printed annually in Nigeria. All the paper used is imported into the country.
“Two decades ago over 400, 000 people were employed in the paper supply chain at the inception of the three paper mills established in Nigeria. Today it has shrunk to less than 50,000.
According to him, “the current model of paper importation in a fragile and challenged global supply chain system is no longer sustainable and every player in the value chain must as a necessity embrace and begin to prepare for the reality of the need to change to local production of pulp and paper for the competitiveness and survival of our businesses.”
The Minister, however, told stakeholders at the gathering that his ministry was working on an industrial revolution to revamp the sector in Nigeria.
He lamented that only one out of the three major paper Mills in the country was working at 30 per cent installed capacity while the others were moribund.
Adebayo admitted that the current reliance on foreign printing materials and the recycled ones by the nation’s printing firms, was not healthy for the country’s economy.
The Minister said: “In line with the vision of the Nigeria Industrial Revolution Plan, a Backward Integration Policy Programme was initiated in the paper sector.
The Minister explained that “It was with the aim of encouraging businesses and farmers to venture into commercial wood pulp farming while at the same time encouraging intermediate paper and paper product manufacturing companies in the country to key into the process of backward integration with a view to sourcing paper pulp materials locally.
According to Adebayo, “The results have been promising. What is needed is to develop the right paper-making technology to complement the research findings.”
“While we continue to work towards a breakthrough In paper and paper product manufacturing in Nigeria, the Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment will continue to apply necessary fiscal policy measures to protect and promote the existing paper Industries in the sector in the overall interest of the economy.” He added.