Despite government intervention to stop importation of some products into the country, smugglers still find their way to bring in these goods.
LEADERSHIP gathered that presently, imported tomato paste competes with local ones which in a way affect the business of people producing locally. Recently, the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) in separate interviews with our correspondent, called on federal government to reduce importation of concentrated tomato paste.
MAN President Dr. Frank Jacobs maintained that government through its introduced tomato policy must cushion the large importation of concentrated tomato paste, which is killing local industries manufacturing tomato paste in Nigeria.
“The issue of tomato has been on for a long time. Members in the sub-sector have invested heavily in the industry. They have made representation through MAN on ways to protect their industries. I believe that most of the imports you are talking about are not the finished tomato paste but rather the concentrate ones”.
“If they are the concentrate ones then those people that import them are expected to pay some levies.”Pay the levy is to balance against those people that have gone into backward integration. Unfortunately, the yield of the tomato last year was not very good and that resulted to lack of enough tomato in the country. So it’s a very difficult situation now,” he said.
He continued, “But I think what we have been doing in MAN is to continued working with those operators and government policy makers to see how we can balance the situation so that we cannot starve Nigerians of tomato consumption. They have to eat tomato and since we cannot produce enough in the country people would be allowed to import the concentrate even though they will pay levies for importing them. But at the end of the day we want to make sure that the operators are doing well and also the consumers that will eat it are seeing it in the market.”
Speaking further, the MAN boss said in spite of the availability of land suitable for the cultivation of tomato in the country, it is appalling that foreign tomato paste still find itself into the shore of the country.
The MAN boss explained that Dangote Group of Industries, Erisco Foods Limited, Savannah Tomato Limited, who are into the manufacturing of tomato paste are groaning over tomato paste importation from abroad and non-availability of tomato. He also explained that government needs to further increase tariff placed on tomato paste importation, as the 60 per cent import duty and $1500 per ton levy are not enough to deter the continued foreign importation of tomato paste into Nigeria.
In an interview with LEADERSHIP, the acting director – general of Nigeria Employers’ Consultative Association, (NECA), Mr. Timothy Olawale, opined that government policy in backward integration was commendable and companies have actually embraced it, but saying changes would not happen overnight.
He therefore advised government to encourage manufacturers and also avoid policy somersault.