Manufacturers demand closure of Benin border to check smuggling

Worried by the destructive consequences of uncontrolled smuggling through Nigeria’s border with the Republic of Benin, the Chemical and Non-Mettalic Products Employers Federation (CANPEF), yesterday, called on the Federal Government to shut the border to forestall further economic mayhem on the country.

The CANPEF call came against the backdrop of an estimated 2.3 metric tones of per boiled rice smuggled into the country through the Seme border last year despite the existence of 110 per cent tariff on the commodity.

Speaking in Lagos on Thursday on the dangers posed by smuggling on Nigerian’s economic reform programme, president of the group, Mr. Devakumar Edwin, warned that most of government’s reform programmes in the areas of agriculture, health and manufacturing sector may fail to achieve the desired objectives if the Beninois authorities are allowed to continue bringing whatever they liked into the country.

He regretted that as a result of the unrestrained importation into Nigeria, an estimated 27000 direct jobs have been lost while hundred of indirect jobs in the textile industry have disappeared following the closure of moré than 60 manufacturing companies over the past few years.

According to him, only 92 of the 145 members of CANPEF are currently in business due to harsh operating environment triggered by smuggling through the Benions border listing some of earlier casualties of smuggling in the Nigerian economy the CANPEF boss noted that Nigerian based tyre, textile and shoe manufacturers have had to close shop in the past few years because Benin Republic which has no manufacturing facilities had turned the country into a dumping ground for all manner of imported goods including fake pharmaceuticals from Asia and Europe.

He regretted that the textile industry which offers the highest number of jobs was worst hit the porous borders, pointing out that the developments was discouraging investors who had plans of buying into the government economic transformation agenda to have a rethink.

Edwin who spoke alongside the CANPEF Executive Secretary, Ebenezer Ali, stated that a recent study by his group revealed that although the Federal Government and some of its agencies have been trying to improve surveillance at the border posts, the government of Benin appear hell bent on giving fresh impetus to smuggling to frustrate the economic reform programmes of the Jonathan administration.

More worrisome to the Nigerian industrialists is the facts the despite not patronizing Nigerian made goods, the Beninons authorities have also put fresh hurdles that make it difficult for Nigerian made products to pass through the country to other nations like Togo, Ghana among other with its prohibitive tariffs.



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