The Minister ofÂ Commerce andÂ Industry, Chief Achike Udenwa, has said that his administration has been battling pressing challenges in the industrial sector of the economy with a view â€œTo transform Nigeria into a modern industrialised Nation and Reposition Commerce as the Hub of the Nationâ€™s Economyâ€
Udenwa, presentingÂ his scorecards to the media, noted that since he took over leadership of the Ministry twelve months ago, he and his team have designed and implemented policies, programmes and strategies for an efficient, competitive and diversified private sector-led industrialisation process and promote trade and investment with special emphasis on increased production and export of non-oil products that will lead to wealth and job creation, poverty reduction and ensure enhanced service delivery and the countryâ€™s integration into the global market.
According to him the new mandates of the Ministry now entails increasing the productive capacity of the manufacturing sector; increasing non-oil export earnings; and decreasing imports, especially of consumer goods.
He pointed out that they have intervened in addressing problems in some sectors.He said thatÂ The Ministryâ€™s policies infood and beverage-sector are to continuously increase local content in finished food products. “We have put in place a policy to stimulate significant increase in theÂ transformation of our agricultural products for consumption and raw materials supply to industries”.
In the Sugar Sub-Sector Udenwa said “The Ministry in its efforts to promote value addition in local sugar production has provided new guidelines to new companies granted approval to import unfortified raw sugar for industrial use.
“These are in area of: Packaging and labelling of their imports and a commitment to backward integration. The objective is to achieve at least, 70 per cent local content in National Sugar Consumption by 2015.
“New investments have been recorded in two privatized Sugar Companies in Numan and Bacita “The National Sugar Development Council (NSDC) in collaboration with the Ministry flagged off the delivery of input loans and credits to 40 members of the Out Grower Association in conjunction with Bank PHB, the CBN and the National Agricultural Insurance Corporation (NAIC)
NSDC has also embarked various researches on Sugar and Sugarcane”
In the Cement Sub-Sector He stated “Government in pursuit of self â€“ sufficiency in Cement production has placed a ban on the importation of bagged cement. The new cement policy led to the construction and commissioning of two new cement factories; Obajana Cement Company, Lokoja and UniCem, Calabar.
“OtherÂ measures to enhance local capacity and increase cement production include: 2-3 years duty free period on importation of machinery, equipment and spare-partsÂ to cover cementÂ plant building phase and first 2 years of commencement of production and removal of all forms of restriction on the importation of gypsum and the reduction to maximum of 5 per cent import duty on gypsum, until its local production on commercial basis is achieved; tax deductible incentives on investments in system conversions to coal firing for cement production” he disclosed.