The CEO of Emzor Pharmaceutical, Stella Okoli has said that the popularly saying, “It is lonely at the top”, is truer than ever, urging President Mohammadu Buhari to involve experts in decision making relating to the economy.
Mrs. Okoli gave this advice during an interactive session she had with newsmen where she aired her views on the Nigeria’s economy, the pharmaceutical industry and the manufacturing sector as a whole.
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The government needs to sort out lot of things. It is not clear to us. Recently we are all asked to submit bids but those that bid more 280 got all. Your money would be taken from you, you will now wait for close to 30 days. We have what they called the Import Credit Facility, a short loan, but the CBN does not allow the use of such fund. There is need for an articulated policy on how manufacturers should be encouraged. The economy has to be coordinated and moving manufacturing forward is critical at this point. Yes there is no dollar, but how are we distributing the dollars that are available so that the people, who need it more, particularly, the manufacturers get it. President Buhari needs to get experts involved. They always say “it is lonely at the top”. What they mean is that people at the top don’t get the required information. We need lot of dollars in Nigeria and we can attract it by using the experts. We cannot afford to starve the manufacturing sector of dollars because oil cannot attract the dollars that are required. Without manufacturing we cannot survive. In the past, we used to rush to Abuja to have meetings but these days no one is inviting us for any meeting. There are lot of people with ideas.
The industry is not well understood. It is the job of the government to make the industry survived by ensuring they get loan at single digit, and they enjoy government’s patronage. The industry is cash strapped. Government is owing pharmaceutical companies billions of naira, and some companies have shut down. It is affecting manufacturing badly. Everything must be done to ensure manufacturing sector survived because it employs lot of people. We are not doing well at all.
Advising on the way out of the quagmire, the former chairman, Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Group of the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (PMGMAN) said, “The government must put in place financial policy that would ensure a single digit interest rate to effectively promote entrepreneurship in the country, access loans and boost their production. Also, there must be special window for manufacturers.
“Manufacturers cannot progress without exporting their goods, and government must make the industry competitive with their foreign counterparts. We know that our competitors abroad have their governments’ backings and it makes them more competitive.”
Mrs. Okoli, who is the Vice President of Manufactures Association of Nigeria (MAN) said further, “I know that pharmaceutical companies have N200billion intervention fund but that has not been accessed. You have to bring collateral but other industries have accessed theirs. Representatives of MAN have met Health minister, minster of industries, the lawmakers, and have made appointment to see the Vice-President on issues affecting the manufacturing sector.”