Industrialists are seeking Federal Government’s interventions in ensuring availability of single-digit interest loans and tax reduction for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) operators in the country.
These, they said, constituted some of the challenges confronting industrialists and job creation.
According to them, some of the challenges include high taxation, scarcity of cheap funds, obsolete technology, high electricity bill and delay in disbursement of funds to qualified SMEs.
These challenges, industrialists told the Minister of Science and Technology, Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu, who was on an industrial visit to Spectra Industries Limited in Lagos, had limited growth in the sub-sector.
According to the Managing Director, Spectra Industries Limited, Mr. Duro Kuteyi, SMEs operators need government’s intervention in the areas of tax reduction and availability of cheap funds, saying it was not sustainable to make SMEs pay high interest rates like that of big companies.
Despite the Presidential Executive Order 03 that mandated ministries, departments and agencies to patronise local manufacturers, Kuteyi said SMEs’ operators have not enjoyed the patronage.
Spectra Industries is the manufacturer of Hyfiba sorghum meal made from soya beans, Saco and natural cocoa beverages.
Onu, while commending Spectra Industries on the giant strides it has made, stated that every point raised by SMEs operators would be looked into, adding that the ministry would grant them every support required to succeed.
He urged them to take advantage of opportunities inherent in the National Board for Technology Incubation (NBTI) to grow the economy.
He said: “For too long as a nation, we have been importing everything; this has not helped us, giving us no room to create jobs for our people. This also has effect on the value of our currency.”
He tasked industrialists to take advantage of technology developed in Nigeria and commercialise it to solve the problem of unemployment in the country.
Earlier, Executive Director of Spectra Industry Limited, Mrs Oluremi Kuteyi, urged the minister to allow National Agency for Science and Engineering Infrastructure (NASENI) to work with the firm in copying some of the firm’s packaging machines and make them available for the use of SMEs through Federal Institute of Industrial Research, Oshodi (FIIRO).
“We have in our factory now a set of equipment fabricated by Federal Polytechnic, Ilaro. Such polytechnic should be encouraged,” she said.
Chairman, National Association of Small-scale Industrialists (NASSI), Lagos chapter, Mr George Kuti, corroborated Kuteyi, listing dearth of cheap funds, non-disbursement of funds to critical manufacturers by the Central Bank of Nigeria, insufficient strengthening of post incubation facilities and obsolete technology as challenges confronting industrialists.
According to him, strengthening of post-incubation facilities was not sufficient for industrialists, explaining that when an idea is hatched, it needed post-incubation strengthening.
He called on the minister to use his influence to push the issue of funding for industrialists in the Federal Executive Council meeting.
“There are funding windows but industrialists were unable to ‘open’ those windows,” he said.
Kuti also urged government to strengthen technical schools, polytechnics and universities to drive technological advancement in the country.
On CBN’s intervention fund, he stated that only 20 per cent achievement was recorded in 2017, adding “we have trained people but no disbursement of funds. If this fund is released, it will create a lot of employments.”
Kuteyi enjoined the Federal Government to be committed to providing the needed enabling environment to support entrepreneurial spirit.
She pointed out that as Nigerian experienced a lot of harvest losses, food processing remained the way out.
To this end, she disclosed that the company had collaborated with many agencies, government and non-governmental such as FIIRO, Bank of Industry and others to promote training in food processing and packaging, knowledge and needed skills.
In promoting local content, she said the firm also partnered institutions in the quest of promoting Nigeria, pointing out that China took a leap and now ahead of many nations.