Manufacturers under the Non-Metallic Mining Group of the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria, have called on the relevant authorities to ameliorate the plight of its members that are currently battling the increase in cost of gas.
They argued that they resorted to the use of gas as an alternative source of power generation due to incessant power outage.
The National Chairman of Non-Metallic Mining Group of MAN, Mr. Afam Mallinson Ukatu, who spoke for the group said mbers pay for gas used in production in dollar denomination, even as the COVID-19 scourge had affected many businesses globally.
He noted in some climes, the governments had come up with interventions to cushion the effects of the pandemic on businesses by assisting manufacturers and business operators in different sectors.
Ukatu said ,“The pandemic is not peculiar to Nigeria alone, it is ravaging the global economy, but I expected the government to give palliative to manufacturers to cushion the resultant effect of the pandemic instead of the commodity price going up.”
“We have been complaining that we are being charged in Dollars for consuming gas locally and nothing has been done to reverse the ugly trend.”
“I have been complaining about this over the years to the parent organisation, MAN for a very long time that the trend should be reversed and also for the government to look into it.”
“It is very painful that gas, which is gotten from our soil is being sold to us in US Dollars. We are being charged according to the exchange rates.”
“Now that the exchange rate has gone up following the technical devaluation of the Naira, and scarcity of Forex. The increase has come again when we are asking for what palliative the government should give us to ameliorate our situation, and to enable us pay salaries, gas bills and offset some bills that accumulated during the lockdown.
“We were also looking at the government to give us some reliefs for one year or more, but what we are getting is increased gas price. This is not done in any part of the world, it is only in Nigeria that this is happening and it is quite unfortunate.”
Ukatu added that irrespective of the cost of production going high, also the cost of moving raw materials from mining site to the factory was extremely expensive due to in-accessible roads occasioned by the rainy season.
He said the current price of gas had pushed the cost of production up by over 30 over per cent, stressing that members were losing huge amount on daily bases.
“In 2019, we were advised not to pay the actual gas bills that the government has given some incentives to some sectors like the textile sector.”
“So we asked a question – why was textile the only considered sector while there are other sectors that are purely producing Made- in -Nigeria goods which are neglected?
“However, as we speak, the textile sector has even got that discount. I am amazed that the government that is supposed to be encouraging us in order to employ more people is behaving this way. This is however a deterrent to intending investors,” he said.
The Chairman, Oil and Gas Sectoral Group of MAN, Dr Micheal Adebayo, the sector is working in collaboration with the Federal Government to revert the payment of gas consumed locally from Dollar to Naira.
Adebayo noted that the government has set up a committee to hamonise the Petroleum Industry Bill as gas pricing for local consumption has been included in the PIB.
He noted that the delay experienced was to amend it once and for all, emphasising that the bill was at the stage of becoming a legal document which would likely be passed into law and possibly implemented before the end of 2020.
He said, “The government is working to make sure that gas is available for domestic consumption at all times and must be sold in Naira.”
“Before the end of 2020, the PIB must have been implemented and once this is done, we would enjoy maximum benefit and the nation’s economy would experience boom, because more consumers of gas would emerge and gas would become more relevant to the Nigerian economy than oil.”