THE Senate Joint Committee on Customs, Excise and Tarrif and Marine Transport has described as unfounded, allegations by the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) that the threat of arrest issued by the Committee against Chief Executives of companies that failed to appear before it was detrimental to investment opportunities in the country.
The President of MAN, Frank Udemba Jacobs had in a report published in a newspaper (not Vanguard) accused the Committee of embarrassing Chief Executives of companies by threatening to arrest them for failing to appear before it. He argued that the threat of arrest “amounts to sending the wrong signals to prospective investors and casting a shadow on the safety of networth individuals operating in our economic space”.
But the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Customs, Senator Hope Uzodinma, in a statement issued on his behalf by the Media Consultant to the Committee Mr Durosinmi Meseko described the allegation “as very unfortunate to say the least”.
According to the statement, “If anything, the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria should be full of praises for the Senate Joint Committee investigating infractions and other vices leading to revenue leakages at the nation’s Ports for working hard to protect the interest of local manufacturers against the myriads of abuses in the sector that have led to the shutting down of several businesses.
For instance, the Free Trade Zone rules have been so much abused through the importation of goods which are sold at lower costs than the locally produced ones, which led to the death of several local manufacturing concerns.
A case in point is that of Gongoni company in Kano and the Free Trade Zone where the same Gongoni products are brought in and sold at lower prices than the locally produced ones. These are issues we are confronting these companies with. We are not particularly targeting the Chief Executives.
When we started our sitting, we were not particular about Chief Executives attending but most of the junior staff that came couldn’t answer our queries, so we decided to start summoning the Chief Executives themselves to appear in order to save the Committee some precious time”.
“So it is completely off the mark for MAN whose interest is being protected to turn round to accuse us of being unfair to the Chief Executives. What we expect these companies and their Chief Executives to do is to be wise enough to pay the outstanding found against them back to government or our Committee would have no option than to publish their names and the amounts being owed government. No amount of name-calling and blackmail will stop us from concluding this all-important national assignment”, the statement stated.