By Charles Nwaoguji
The Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) has called for speedy passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) as that will boost investors confidence and enhance investments in the sector.
The Association also complained that access to gas as alternative source of power generation has remained a challenge to manufacturers.
Chairman, Oil and Gas Sectoral Group of MAN, Dr. Micheal Adebayo, who made the disclosure, noted that the price of natural gas at the international market at $1.80 remains cheaper than $7.99 per standard cubic meter, charged locally.
He however, applauded the government for setting up a committee to hamonise the PIB as gas pricing for local consumption has been included in the PIB.
He believed that the delay experienced might be to amend the bill once and for all, emphasising that the bill is at the stage of becoming a legal document, which would likely be passed into law and possibly implemented before the end of 2020.
“The government is working to make sure that gas is available for domestic consumption and must be sold in Naira. Before the end of 2020, once the PIB is implemented, we would enjoy maximum benefit and the nation’s economy would experience a boom, because more consumers of gas would emerge, gas would become more relevant to the Nigerian economy than oil and investment will improve.”
Adebayo expressed fears that mass retrenchment was looming in the real sector, lamenting that manufacturers were groaning, which has led to the exit of industries in the country to neighbouring countries.
“The high cost of power has forced scores of industrial manufacturing plants across the country to close shop, leading to mass retrenchment of workers. Due to power challenge, most industries have relocated to neighbouring countries. The few firms in the countries are finding it difficult to remain in business, noting that the uncertainty created by the lack of passage of the bill has affected the manufacturing sector.
“Time is of the essence now to pass this PIB. There is no better time than now, as the high cost of production and harsh business environment is driving away investments.”
Adebayo lamented that the delay was holding down investment in the sector, making reference to the proposed MAN electricity company, where investors promised and reneged in their promises due to uncertainty in the business environment.
He maintained that the cost of production was increasing by the day, resulting in dearth of industries.
“Many industries are relocating to nearby countries. Government should speedily assent the PIB. The government should work with the National Assembly and critical stakeholders to actualise this.
“We believe that the National Assembly can push for the assent of the bill by the Federal Government. Most of these assembly members also have industries here, they should not keep mute while industries are dying. Nigeria is about to de-industrialise if nothing is done quickly.”
He noted that the delay in passing the PIB is holding down critical investment and retarding the growth of the real sector as “we cannot plan or budget.