By Sabi Onyenwe, Owerri,
Goddi M. Ihenachor, the chairman of the Metal Operators of Nigeria, South East zone, a Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) sub-sector of the Nigerian Metallurgical Industry has decried the neglect the Federal Government and the Central Bank of Nigerian, CBN), saying they have shunned the sector which he said has stemmed its real growth.
He said; “In this industry, steel is power and as such the metal subsector of the country must be repositioned by FG to produce among other things, bars, rods, angles, sections, plates sheets, strips, pipes, wires, etc, for the use of the metal operators to thrive and for the investors to scale up their businesses.
“In the Metallurgical industry, many countries that started in the way Nigeria started its its own years back have been able to lift their economies from poverty and starvation due to the level of industrialization they have achieved through proper development of the metallurgical industry.
“Some of those countries include South Korea, Algeria, Tunisia. India China, Iran, Turkey, Egypt Libya etc but Nigeria has not found its feet in this Industrial sector of the economy for decades.
“More worrisome is the fact that both the Federal Government and the Central Bank of Nigeria have not been providing incentives to the SMEs of the Metallurgical sector unlike China and India that give incentives to their Industrialists to grow their businesses. One of the consequences is that the small and medium industrial ventures are suffering, thus stunted growth.
In an exclusive chat, Ihenachor, the Chairman/ Chief Executive Officer(CEO) GMICORD Industrial Group and the Chairman of the Metal Operators of Nigeria, South East Zone, he blamed the Central Bank of Nigeria and the Federal government for the stunted growth of the Metal Operators in the country.
He urged the Federal government and the CBN to study the examples of China and India and apply same to energize the SMEs in this sector to thrive.
“The Federal Government should borrow a leaf from its Chinese counter part and grant export incentives to industrialists under the auspices of metal operators in order to attract foreign exchange inflow to Nigeria. Government can give a certain percentage of the export value to the manufacturers”, Ihenachor said.
In China, he said, “The lending rates are between 0.5 and two per cent with long term repayment period and allowing Metal Operators to borrow at commercial banks’ rates like traders is suicidal “, the Chairman said.
Ihenachor, how ever, as the Chairman of the Metal Operators, Southeast zone, charged the CBN to establish what he called “special fund” for the operators at an interest rate of two to three per cent with long term repayment period spreading to about 30 years.
He disclosed that Chinese companies are flooding Nigeria’s market with very low priced products.
Therefore, as a natural consequence of competition, “This is pushing out operators who regularly source their forex needs from black market”, he said.
He also said the Chinese government encourages export incentives in their honest bid to encourage foreign exchange inflow to China”.
In a similar way, “We now know that Indian companies operating in Nigeria are supported by Bank of India with very low interest rate for machineries and long term repayment plan. The Bank of India finances the Indian industrialists’ raw materials imported into India and allows them to pay back within 90-120 days”, the chairman said.
Ihenachor stated that such gesture is the reason the Indian companies are springing up in Nigeria. “If Bank of India can do this for their nationals, why can’t our own CBN do same for Nigerian companies”?, he asked.