Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige, on Friday in Abuja, said the Federal Government would reconsider the 500 percent tariff hike on local beverages.
Ngige, according to a statement signed by the Ministry’s Director of Press, Samuel Olowokere, disclosed this when members of the National Union of Food, Beverage and Tobacco Joint Employers and Workers Association visited him in his office on a Save Our Soul (SOS) mission.
Ngige said the Federal Government will review the newly introduced 500 per cent excise duty on locally produced alcoholic beverages to save the sector from imminent collapse and forestall the consequent loss of about two hundred thousand jobs.
He said, “You have written to the Federal Government through me that the increase in excise duty on alcohol and beverages will create job losses.
“Because once you add a new cost and pass it on, there will be consumer resistance, resulting in low patronage.
“Whereas the products coming from overseas that are being smuggled in which are cheap, will take over the market. It is a statement of fact.
“I have passed your complaints and luckily we have a listening President who wants the good of all Nigerians.
“The President will definitely ask the Minister of Finance and the economic management team to review the tariff.”
The minister further said that Nigeria cannot afford to create poverty and job losses while promoting abundant jobs in other countries.
He, however said that job losses are not part of the present administration and would not support the 500 per cent tariff increase.
He the Economic and Recovery Growth Plan (ERGP) of the Federal Government was partly tailored towards job creation rather than losses.
He added that the Executive Order No. one and four were for job creation as well as ensuring that jobs created were done by the locals.
Ngige said that the cardinal place job creation and protection occupy informed the administration’s fidelity to non-declaration of redundancy in the federal Ministries and Agencies, hence no retrenchment of workers.
He said, “This is not to say that we do not know that in some places available jobs have more than available staff members to match them but this is a compassionate administration.
“The President does not want to throw many families into anguish. The President always said that he was a salary earner in all his working life.
“You can also see that we did not place an embargo on recruitment as we used to have years ago even while we were under recession.
“The Federal Government has been replacing staff members who exited as well as creating new jobs in the public sector. But this has to be complemented with the private sector jobs to have a full blend.”