MAN President, Engr. Mansur Ahmed
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Kogi Govt’s invasion of Dangote Cement Plant illegal, an strong-arm tactics – MAN President

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The invasion of Dangote Cement Plant by the state’s security outfit, the vigilantes, on the orders of the Gov. Yahaya Bello, has been roundly condemned by the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), saying such action will discourage new investments in the state.

MAN President, Engr. Mansur Ahmed, told a news conference as part of activities heralding the 50th Annual General Meeting (AGM) of the association scheduled to hold from October 17 to 19.

“The action by Kogi State is of great concern and it is unimaginable that a state government would take such drastic action to shut down a plant that provides job opportunities and economic activities on a huge scale for the people of the state.

“The action appears to be taken by government and it is alleged to be an effort for some alleged claim on some alleged payment of taxes that have not been made or recovered from the company,” Persecondnews quotes  Ahmed as saying, who described the move as totally illegitimate.

Ahmed said if the state government had any issue against any member of the association or corporate citizens, the appropriate thing to do is to take the member to court.

He said: “You cannot use strong-arm tactics to shut them down or impose very severe restrictions on their operations simply to force them. This is illegal and I believe that what has happened will not happen in a normal operating environment.’’

On the association’s next line of action, the MAN president disclosed that the issue had been taken up with the Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment with a view to addressing the anomaly.

“We have no reason not to pay taxes to the Kogi State government as and when due and I am aware that Dangote Industries is one of the highest tax-payers in Nigeria.

“But, if indeed for whatever reason that there is a tax for the Kogi State government on Dangote, it has measures and ways of recovery and there is no justification to threaten the closure of that industry.

“We are totally opposed to that kind of measure because there are ways to resolve this amicably in a legal manner and we hope that the relevant authorities in both the federal and state levels would intervene to ensure that this kind of action is not repeated,” Ahmed stressed.

On the forthcoming AGM, the MAN boss explained that the theme, “An Agenda for Nigeria’s Industrialisation for the Next Decade”, is borne out of the need to take stock of the nation’s journey to industrialization, ascertain the pains and highlight the performance limiters as well as recognise the gains and growth milestones.

Noting that over the years the performance of the manufacturing sector has been constrained by numerous familiar challenges that are clearly espoused in its numerous presentations and submissions to the government, Ahmed said it is a matter of great concern to its members that even as the economy continues to experience very slow growth, policymakers at all levels continue to compound the situation by introducing new taxes, further worsening the difficult and high-cost operating environment.

“In some climes, when the economy slows down, government reduces taxes to encourage businesses to expand, create more jobs and increase economic activities. What we are seeing in Nigeria today is not only increasing tax rate but introducing new taxes and turning every public agency into a revenue collector.

“.In the midst of the challenges, we are resilient and would soldier on with advocacy for a conducive atmosphere for the operation of manufacturing business in Nigeria. We will continue to work towards ensuring that Nigeria becomes an environment that promotes competitiveness.’’

The Director General of MAN, Mr Segun Ajayi Kadir, said the 50th AGM is special, pointing out that manufacturers had survived the turbulence both domestically and internationally.

“The last few years for manufacturing have experienced external factors largely out of its control impacting negatively on the economy.’’

On the federal government’s plan to impose excise duty on non-alcoholic drinks, Kadir described it as ill-timed.

“What is most painful is that the increase in excise on new products only started this year. So it will amount to changing the goal post in the middle of the game. We have a three-year plan on the escalation of excise duty.

“All that was thrown into the dustbin and a new and higher one was introduced and targeted at killing the industry. This should be rescinded immediately and that is the only way this sector can survive.’’

 

 

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