By Emman Ovuakporie
ABUJA—Executive Secretary of National Sugar Development Council, NSDC, Dr Abdullateef Busari, yesterday, blamed natural challenges faced by Dangote and Bua sugar refineries for failure to hit the 2017 target set for sufficiency in the production of refined sugar in Nigeria.
He said this while responding to queries by House of Representatives Ad-hoc Committee investigating low concessionary tariff given by Ministry of Trade and Investment for sugar importation into the country from 2013 to 2016 as contained in the backward integration policy.
Also, Chairman of the Ad-hoc Committee, Abiodun Olasupo (APC, Oyo) in his opening remarks said: “Within three years from 2009 and 2011, Nigeria expended N228.8 billion on sugar importation,”a situation he described as hermorrhage on the country’s foreign exchange earnings and a loss of hundreds and thousands of employment opportunities for skilled and semi skilled labour and food insecurity arising from sugar importation dependence.
He identified smuggling and the issues of land acquisition as some of the challenges that have affected sugar self-sufficiency in the country despite the adoption of concessionary tariff of five percent duty plus five percent levy to be charged on raw sugar importation by refineries for the first three years of NSMP implementation.
It is also expected that the three main benefiting companies namely- Dangote Sugar Refinery, BUA Sugar Refinery and the Golden Sugar Refinery would plough back the gains made to the tariff concession to develop the BIP projects.
The Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Mr Okechukwu Enalamah, however, failed to show up at the committee hearing or send a representative to state the ministry’s position on the matter, necessitating the chairman threatening to invoke section 88 of the constitution to summon the minister to appear before the committee or face a bench warrant on him.