Stories by Charles Nwaoguji
Sachet water that used to be for the common man in the street is now beyond his reach as the price has soared due to lack of foreign exchange to import machinery and other production materials.
The difficulties in getting foreign exchange and the steep fall in the value of the naira are seriously affecting the sachet water production in the country.
Daily Sun investigation revealed that the unprecedented fall in the value of the naira has made importation difficult and expensive, thereby resulting in high cost of production of sachet water.
Those who spoke to Daily Sun recently said if the situation continues, the country may be heading for epidemics as producers will not be able to produce quality sachet water for consumption.
The Chairman of the Association of Table Water Processors (ATWAP), the Ondo State branch, Mr. Jeff Agboola, lamented that a bag of the product, which usually contains 20 sachets and which was initially sold for N100, now goes for N150 as the wholesalers attributed the increased cost to the scarcity of dollars and the resultant depreciation of the naira, which means it has increased from N10 to N20 per sachet.
He further stressed that if the situation was not addressed urgently, it might lead to epidemics if the producers cannot have foreign exchange to import their materials.
According to Agboola, the prices of the materials, which are basically imported, have gone up because the dollar exchange rate has gone higher. He expressed displeasure against the hike in the price of the nylon used to package the sachet water, noting that the Port Harcourt-based nylon manufacturing company has been shut down due to its inability to import the required materials for packaging the product.
He said a kilogramme of the nylon, which was sold at N520 in January 2016 now costs N1,000. His words: “The product we use is nylon and it is very scarce now. The material was produced in Port Harcourt but the company has shut down production presently. As the company has closed down, there is no way we can get the material.
“The company is shut down and the Indian workers in the company have returned to their country. They will return when the dollar stabilises. Those of us that have paid for the product since last week are being refunded,” he said.
The country is in a big problem, if epidemics is allowed to occur in any part of the country. The fear among experts is that these waterborne diseases, if allowed to occur, may spread like fire and many people may die as a result of this.
The Executive Secretary of Association of Food, Beverage and Tobacco Employers, Mr. Aderemi Adegboyega, said waterborne disease may be the worst if it is allowed to occur in any part of the country.
“We pray it doesn’t occur but if it occurs, it will spread like fire, which means many people may die as a result of these epidemics.”
He said the price of sachet water should be brought down so that people can have access to it, adding that many consumers may resort to drinking anything they see, if it is made cheaper for them.
On how to control waterborne diseases, he said that outbreak of waterborne disease can be checkmated by the provision of potable water, which is often regulated to keep public health, owing to the fact that it is an important determinant of health.
Stakeholders task FG on ways to stimulate economy
Stakeholders in credit industry are demanding that the Federal Government take urgent steps to stimulate economic activities in the country, particularly in the use of credit to create employment opportunities for the youths.
The Chief Executive Officer/Registrar, Institute of Credit Administration (ICA), Prof. Chris Onalo, who spoke recently at the Nigeria Credit Industry Awards in Lagos, said that no economy grows without the use of credit, adding that credit at whatever level of sector, if not properly managed, could spell doom for an economy.
“As we are all aware, for the economy to grow to the point of providing desired jobs and creating wealth, there must be credit extension at all levels of industrial and commercial activities. But credit business extended or granted under a sloppy arrangement is an evil worse than an economy driven by a cash-and-carry regime,” he said.
He noted that all over the world, businesses extend credit to each other but successful management of these credits has been hampered and abused, to a large extent, following lack of standards, unethical conducts and insider’s abuse resulting to sharp practices in the industry.
He stated that in other countries of the world where economy is driven by credit system, national institutes for credit are in place to regulate, set standards, moderate ethical conducts and build capacity of the people involved in managing, controlling and monitoring credits at all levels of commercial or business credit activities.
He said the incidence that triggered the world economic and financial meltdown some years back stemmed largely from lack of proper attention to sound and disciplined credit management system, thus re-enforcing the need for every country to provide necessary safeguards and infrastructure to protect local credit market economy.
One of the major ways to improve the economy, he said, is to strengthen the credit market for economic prosperity, especially at a time of impending recession, the effect of which is to improve or reduce unemployment market through real sector lending and foster economic expansion, particularly through adequate credit support for Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs).
Also speaking at the event, the President of Institute of Credit Administration (ICA), Dr. Adetunji Oyebanji, said the use of credit is a vital necessity to the survival of any economy.
“We believe that an economy without the availability of credits is destined for failure or stagnancy.”
He noted that the institute was keen on equipping Nigerians and the world with professionals who will be able to steer their countries to the right direction.
He explained that Postgraduate School of Credit and Financial Management (PSCFM) has made a significant mark in Nigeria’s credit industry, having turned out for the economy huge number of highly skilled and qualified credit management professionals currently working in different sectors of the economy.
“We are happy to say without any doubt that PSCFM has done Nigeria proud by putting the country on the world map of nations considered credit management light bearers,” he said.
Commenting on the award to the 2016 awardees, he said the institute was recognising the individuals and corporate bodies who have excelled in the sector for their contributions toward the development of the credit industry in Nigeria.
Over six categories of awards were presented, including Credit Management Director of the Year, Credit Relationship Manager of the Year, Provider of Credit to SMEs of the Year, Credit Recovery Professional of the Year, Corporate Credit Provider of the Year and Customer Credit Integrity of the Year.
SMEs Development Bank to commence operation soon
Plans are underway to establish Development Bank of Nigeria (DBN) by the government to cater for the needs of the manufacturing sector in the country, the President of Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), Mr. Frank Jacobs, has said.
Jacobs, who stated this at the 49th annual general meeting of Ikeja branch of MAN, held recently in Lagos, said that when the bank is fully operational, it will cater for the credit needs of the manufacturing sector, adding that the bank is expected to reduce interest rate of over 25 per cent charged by the commercial banks to manufacturers to single digit of not more that 5 per cent.
He said although the manufacturing sector is passing through difficult times, there is still hope for the sector to bounce back. He called on members of MAN to key into the resource based industrialisation policy, which the Federal Government has adopted.
He noted that the policy will help to reduce the demand for forex to import essential raw materials for production, which has been a major challenge in recent times.
Jacob explained that resource-based industrialisation policy, which involves the utilisation of the nation’s abundant natural resources in producing the products the country needs would not come without a cost for some manufacturers as they may have to retool existing technologies and production processes.
He stated that government has a lot to do to make this new orientation of resource-based industrialisation successful. “Government should create attractive incentives for investors who would engage in the processing of abundant agricultural and mineral resources from primary produce to secondary or intermediate products.
According to him, this would go a long way in attracting potential and current manufacturers into the use of local raw materials input.
In the meantime, he said government has to continue the search for viable options of making forex available for manufacturers as they remain in production.
He commended the recent efforts of government through the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to give preferential forex allocation to manufacturers.
He called on the government to design strategies to achieve diversification and growth that is pro-competition, wealth-creating and regulated for private and public sector interests, insulated from external and domestic shocks.
Also speaking at the event, the Chairman of Ikeja branch of MAN, Prince Oba Okojie, said the way to get the economy back to its proper position is for the government to invest in tourism.
Okojie noted that tourism is another money earner while the prowess of mining of abundant mineral resources the country is endowed with is limitless, stating that the small and medium scale industries should be used as catalysts to drive the economy as this will help in employment generation.
On his part, the former Chairman of Economic Summit, Mr. Mazi Sam Ohuabunwa, urged government to pay attention to agricultural sector.
He said agriculture should be seen as a serious business and not as a vocation or a hobby, adding that to make agriculture contribute meaningfully to the economy, government must invest heavily in it.
“Most of our agric exports are mere commodities with little value addition that become easily susceptible to global market price volatilities,” he said, noting that the major economic challenge Nigeria has is not shortage of dollars or foreign exchange but low productivity.
“We export rubber and import tyres, export cocoa and import chocolate, export hides and skin and import shoes and handbags; export crude oil and import PMS, DPK, Diesel and JET A1,” he added.
He stated that the way out of the current economic recession is for the government to focus on the manufacturing sector – productivity through value addition.
“If our country pursues a determined manufacturing policy, most of our current economic challenges – high unemployment, high inflation, high exchange rate – will abate,” he said.
NB lifts 30 entrepreneurs in South-East with N7.5m
From Jeff Amechi Agbodo, Onitsha
The Nigeria Breweries through its Life Continental Lager Beer at the weekend gave out N7.5 million to 30 budding entrepreneurs in the South-East.
The 30 entrepreneurs were presented with cheques of N 250,000 each in an event held at the Sweet Garden, 7, Park Road, GRA, Onitsha in Anambra State.
The gesture, according to the organizers of the event, was aimed at reducing unemployment, as well as empower youths in the region. Life Progress Booster show, an entrepreneurial talent hunt and mentoring radio programme, which started in 2015 is targeted at helping innovative businessmen and women in the South East.
The Assistant Brand Manager, Regional Mainstream Brands of NB Plc, Mr Josiah Akinola, speaking at he event, noted that the Life Progress Booster Show was aimed at nurturing and encouraging entrepreneurs from the South East, while also creating a platform for budding businessmen and women to present their proposals and transform their ideas to realities.
According to him, “the Progress Booster Show was initiated to raise more entrepreneurs and self-dependent individuals in South East Nigeria. The average South East person is driven by business and commercial opportunities, and the region is highly regarded as an excellent environment for businesses.
“Throughout the year, the Life Continental Beer brand has focused on empowering our consumers, and we have shown willingness and dedication to contribute to their successes and achievements.”
He described Life Continental Lager Beer as a fine quality lager beer from the stables of NB Plc, saying that the brands are made from choicest grains, hops and the purest of waters.
Akinola explained that the brand was expertly brewed to give that rich, crisp distinctive taste and well-rounded aroma in true quality fashion of the master brewers, adding that “Life is better when shared and when it is shared, there is progress. This is what forms the core brand value of great-tasting Life Continental Beer, promoting and refreshing a life-long tradition of sharing a heritage of progress”.
In his appreciation, one of the lucky winners, Chibueze Usulor, said he was overwhelmed with joy when his name was mentioned as a winner, adding that he would use the money to expand his photocopying business at the Ebonyi State University, (EBSU) CAS Campus.
According to Usulor, “I am already running the business with only one photocopying machine and a rickety generator, but with this money, I shall buy more machines and electric generators to sustain the business”.