Food Beverage Makers Threaten to Relocate Factories from Nigeria
By Adedapo Adesanya
Employers of labour in the food and beverage sector under the aegis of the National Union of Food Beverage and Tobacco Employees (NUFBTE) say they are ready to leave Nigeria and relocate their factories to neighbouring West African countries over alleged outrageous excise duty on carbonated drinks and multiple taxation by the federal government.
The food beverage makers called on the federal government to take urgent action to save the business environment from collapsing.
They made their grievances known in separate letters titled Federal Government Save Our Soul, Food Sector is Dying because of Multiple Excise Duty/Taxation sent to the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mr Femi Gbajabiamila; the Minister of Labour and Employment, Mr Chris Ngige; and the President of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Mr Ayuba Wabba.
The letters signed by the President of NUFBTE, Mr Lateef Oyelekan, called on the central government to save the sector from extinction as the 10 per cent excise duty placed on carbonated drinks and excess taxation has caused the sack of over 5,000 employees in the last eight months.
They threatened to relocate their factories to neighbouring countries as the next line of action, where production cost is lesser, and the finished products would be brought back to Nigeria to sell, putting Nigeria at the receiving end.
The group said the introduction of the excise duty had crippled the business since January this year till date, saying, “The life span of finished products (FCMG) is six months. Billions of products have expired and will be discarded because of the price increase of the finished products.
“Billions of naira in raw materials of the products will expire in December and January. The production of goods daily, which was formerly 12 hours per day, six days a week (Monday to Saturday), has now been reduced to eight hours per day and three times a week.
“Companies that have six production lines have shut three lines down, and most companies are now left with three lines to produce due to the excess percentage on excise duty and taxation. Companies are struggling to produce.”
The letter read further, “Having said that, in the past years, companies like Nigeria Bottling Company, Nigeria Breweries Limited, Nestle, Seven-Up Bottling Company, International Breweries, Nigeria Flour Mills, to mention a few engaged Technical school holders, GCE holders, OND holders, HND holders and train them in the company’s technical training college for a year, after which they were employed. This is not the case again in recent times.
“Furthermore, each of the aforementioned companies employed close to 1000 workers in the past years, but sadly this exercise has stopped in the past two years due to the outrageous excise duty and taxation affecting the sector.”