The Association of Food, Beverage, and Tobacco Employers (AFBTE) has criticised the country’s poor infrastructure and insecurity, claiming that these issues are impeding the food and beverage industry’s growth.
The employers urged the federal government to find a long-term solution, claiming that despite previous efforts to address the issue, the government has not hastened growth.
AFBTE President Patrick Anegbe, who made the request during the association’s 43rd annual general meeting in Lagos, said the funding shortfall has been a tremendous drain on member-companies’ resources because they have had to build their own infrastructure.
He bemoaned the fact that their efforts had gone unnoticed by tax and other authorities, who had refused to grant relief for the expenses their enterprises had incurred as a result of the government’s incapacity to fully serve them.
Businesses, he claims, have continued to spend vast sums of money to put in place what the government should ordinarily be accountable for.
“What this means is that resources that should be used to expand enterprises are instead being used to address shortfalls that various taxes should ordinarily address.” If we want to maximize our country’s production capacity, we need to modify this condition,” he stated.
He also bemoaned the country’s dismal security status and encouraged the administration to prepare to address the problem. He emphasized that the lack of peace and security in Nigeria has had a negative impact on investment.
This, he claims, is evidenced by the lackluster inflow of Foreign Direct Investments (FDI) in recent years.
“These events have had a negative impact on economic growth, particularly in agriculture, which provides a portion of the raw materials for our sector’s firms. “Among other things, job creation and market expansion have been significantly impacted,” he continued.
The association also urged governments at all levels to make the food and beverage industry a priority by engaging with it on a regular basis to address its difficulties and what governments can do to improve their productive capacities.
This, the employers claimed, was due to the sector’s special relevance to people’s well-being. Anegbe expressed displeasure with a system in which member-companies are frequently harassed by municipal, state, and federal officials for repeated taxation.
“Issues involving certain of the acts of the federal, state, and local governments that we have constantly emphasized at our annual general meetings have not altered,” he says. In many cases, they have grown to inconceivable proportions, with negative consequences for member-companies.
“Among the difficulties is the tendency of government officials not to follow the law. They’ve also raised their ugly heads in the indiscriminate imposition of taxes and levies, as well as the disruption of some of our members’ enterprises, sometimes in the most uncivilized manner.”