Forex scarcity, energy costs, others hurting manufacturers — LCCI

The Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry has said that growth in manufacturing remained subdued due to high inflation, continuous rise in interest rates, forex scarcity, high energy cost, and weakening purchasing power.

The chamber also urged the Federal Government to sustain its targeted interventions in selected sectors like agriculture, manufacturing, export infrastructure while tackling insecurity.

Michael Olawale-Cole, president of the chamber stated this recently during the LCCI quarterly state of the economy press conference in Lagos.

According to him, fuel subsidy removal would spur investments in domestic refining and petrochemicals and create a significant value chain for the various stakeholders.

He noted that even though the planned removal of fuel subsidies may cause further accelerate inflation in the short term, “it is arguably one of the best economic decisions to reduce our unsustainable debts and widespread corruption in that sector”.

Olawale-Cole said the chamber expected the government to roll out appropriate cushioning or palliative policies and measures before the subsidy removal in the second half of the year.

Read also: LCCI warns of unintended consequences as election row persists

He said, “The LCCI is of the view that the government’s fixation on debt accumulation is unhealthy. Hence, it should explore other avenues including opening equity opportunities and offloading/sales of its real estate holdings.

“The government should also make the problem of oil theft, with the removal of oil subsidy regime, a thing of the past to help create room for fiscal manipulation.”

According to the chamber, the government must take cognisance of the socio-economic implications of fuel subsidy removal, especially with unemployment at an unwholesome rate of about 40 percent.

The LCCI president also said the cost of logistics had gone up due to the poor state of roads and the lack of connectivity amongst farms, factories, and markets.

To reduce the shocks from disruptions to supply chains for raw materials, the chamber recommended that manufacturers be assisted with subsidised input and more allocation of forex for the importation of critical inputs.

He stated further, “While the Central Bank of Nigeria embarks on monetary tightening to tame inflation, it should ensure that targeted concessionary credit to the private sector is sustained for MSMEs.

“To achieve the laudable objectives of the 2023 budget, we urge the government to sustain current efforts towards the realisation of crude oil production and export targets by strengthening the investment-friendliness of the oil and gas industry. Public-private partnerships are the best models to fast-track the pace of our infrastructural development.”