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March 2, 2024
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Extend rail network to border areas, Expert tells FG

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By Yetunde Fatungase

An expert in Economics, Dr Obindah Geshon, on Thursday in Abeokuta urged the Federal Government to look into extending the country’s rail network towards the border regions.

Geshon, in his lecture at the 38th Annual General Meeting (AGM) of the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), said this would help the country’s economy.

”This will help to tackle some of the challenges bedeviling the manufacturing sector,” the Associate Professor of Energy and Sustainability Economics at the Department of Economics and Development Studies, Covenant University in Ota, said.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the AGM has as its theme “Re-engineering Economic Pathways for the Growth and Advancement of the Real Sector- Current Realities and Future Prospects”.

Geshon pointed out that if rail transportation was extended to the border areas, the pressure of increase in price of petrol and diesel would not affect cost of manufactured goods.

He also urged government to support manufacturers with cheap credits, just as it should create an enabling environment which would “boost their confidence in an uncertain economy”.

“Government needs to look at transportation, particularly rail transportation, which should be extended to all states and the border countries around.

“If the rail transportation is in place, all of the pressure of increased price of PMS and diesel will not affect the cost of manufactured goods.

“Government also needs to address logistics at the ports  —- the pricing and the time frame,” the Associate Professor said.

Geshon however, tasked manufacturers on the need to source inputs locally, saying this is a sure pathway to growth.

He noted that the fluctuation of the foreign exchange is adversely affecting the value of the Naira.

”In view of this, there is no sense in sourcing raw materials in dollars to produce goods that would be sold in Naira.”

Geshon also urged them to invest in renewable energy, and not individually but collectively as a body.

In his submission, Gov. Dapo Abiodun of Ogun noted that energy which has continued to be the driving force of the manufacturing sector has been unavailable as it should be.

“Successive administrations have not been able to proffer lasting solutions to the challenges of energy availability,” he said.

Abiodun, who represented by the Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Mr Tokunbo Talabi, lamented that a sizeable number of manufacturing firms have folded up.

He said this was due to irregular power supply and high cost of petroleum products, resulting in a rising unemployment rate in the country.

“It was with that determination to change the narrative and redirect our economy for greater performance in the real sector that the present administration summoned the courage to address the age-long conundrum in the upstream sector of our oil industry.

”This is through the deregulation policy that has led to the removal of subsidy,” the governor said.

Earlier in his address, the Chairman of Ogun chapter of MAN, Mr George Onafowokan, said manufacturers were groaning under the weight of diverse taxes by federal, state and local government agencies.

“These are bodies who regulate the same manufacturing process, using same checklists.

“This often resulted in multiple charges and increase production costs for the manufacturers.”

He then pleaded with the regulatory agencies, especially in Ogun, to harmonise their lists of requirements and visits to manufacturing outfits.

Onafowokan said this would help reduce the financial burden imposed on them by such visits.

“It is our plea that regulatory agencies, especially within Ogun, will harmonise their lists of requirements to reduce the financial burden on manufacturers.

“The tax net should also be expanded to bring in more revenue for the government, rather than putting undue pressure on manufacturers in the state,” he said.

The Ogun MAN Chairman expressed hope that the recommendations of the Presidential Committee on Fiscal Policy and Tax Reforms would lead to ending multiple and illegal taxation of manufacturers.

NAN reports that the committee was set up to review and harmonise major tax laws and revenue collection processes.(NAN)

Edited by Olawale Alabi

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