Employers in the food, beverage and tobacco sector have warned of looming job losses if the challenges in the business environment are not turned around.
Speaking on behalf of the employers at the 36th Annual General Meeting of the Association of Food, Beverage and Tobacco Employers in Lagos, the President, AFBTE, Mr. Paul Gbededo, said that manufacturers had losses in the millions of dollars since the devaluation of the naira in the past months.
Gbededo, who was represented by Chief Patrick Anegba said that the high cost of goods being produced in the country could not be passed on to the consumer due to their low purchasing power.
According to Mr. Gbededo, the 6.81 percent contribution of the sector to the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) will not have any meaning if the current situation is not rectified.
He further said, “The consequence of this for employment is very obvious, as production shrinks side by side figures, company operations will also shrink, expenses and reduction in the number of people employed.
“The scenario of astronomical rise in the cost of production leading to uncompetitive locally manufactured products at a time when the sub-region of West Africa is implementing the Common External Tariff portends more danger for Nigerian manufacturers and the economy.
“This is so because the CET will allow goods made in other West African countries to move into Nigeria where locally manufactured products are already disadvantaged by cost. Consumers will not buy made in Nigeria goods when the same products from neighboring countries are available at lower costs.”
In his address, the Lagos State Governor, Mr. Akinwunmi Amobode, who was represented by Prof. Ademola Abass said that food and beverage manufacturers should participate actively in the small business loan guarantee scheme and the employment trust fund his administration is about to unveil.
He said that the two programmes were designed to create jobs and empower youths with entrepreneurial skills.
He observed that the state bore the greatest burden of a poor economy due to huge population.