Epunchng - Most read newspaper in Nigeria Sunday, August 13, 2017 - Page 47

Sunday business August 13, 2017 47 Govt should extend automotive incentives to parts makers – Offorjama The Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer, Forgo Batteries Company Limited, Mr. Joseph Offorjama, in this interview with SUCCESS NWOGU addresses issues in the auto manufacturing industry H  ow do you assess the industrialisation and economic policies of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration? Policies have not been the major problem of Nigeria and many other countries. The problem is more on the implementation of government policies and programmes. In most cases, policies are well thought out, but then, during implementation, they do not go exactly the expected way. So far so good; we hope it gets better. Are there some policies and programmes that have been favourable to auto-companies in this present administration? Buhari’s government inherited the National Automotive Policy from the previous government headed by Dr. Goodluck Jonathan and thought it well to be continued and it is ongoing. We think it is a good one. For our industry, we see ourselves in the future. We keep talking with government to possibly exclude Nigerian companies that manufacture goods to access tax or duty payment incentives, than bringing in those goods. For example, if you demand five per cent import duty from someone who had just dismembered vehicles only to assemble them in Nigeria and for us who assemble batteries in Nigeria and are creating jobs, we have to pay 10 per cent, and in some cases 20 per cent; such will not help the economy. They should give us some incentives or five per cent import duty as applicable in the automotive sector. They should also stop the sourcing of parts that can be readily available in this country from being imported at a very ridiculous import duty or rate. Do you think Nigerian indigenous auto companies can fully manufacture cars in the next 20 years? We can. What Innoson auto manufacturing company is doing at present is interesting. The Minister of Information, Mr. Lai Mohammed, has said that Innoson does not just assemble; Innoson manufactures. So, if prominent Nigerians in the like of a minister who visited the facility said that Innoson manufactures vehicles, why are you thinking about 20 years? Here now, with government policies, many manufacturers are being motivated to add value to the economy. We want more players in the automotive sector. How can these initiatives be encouraged so that very soon, Nigerian companies will fully manufacture cars for national consumption and even for export to other countries? At present, there are synergies and cooperation between some Nigerian companies and their foreign partners in developing the sector. The problem is that prices of these locally manufactured cars are not cheap for average income earners. In the future, there are possible ways that as policies get better and as more players come into the sector, prices of vehicles will come down. But for now, I think it is a good one but average Nigerians cannot afford them. That is the major problem I see. How has Forgo Batteries Company Limited fared in the Nigerian market? Forgo Batteries Company Limited has fared relatively well even though many Nigerians in the past were not proud of indigenous products but with the quality Forgo has offered, it has gained the acceptance of Nigerians who value good quality product. Can Nigerian companies compare favourably with their foreign counterparts? Are their products of international standards? Every country has its own standards specifications and at present in Nigeria, the Standards Organisation of Nigeria is doing well to ensure that every product sold in the market meets its NIS standard requirement. Of course, Forgo has met all the requirements. Besides that, there are a number of facilities and products in the country that can meet international standards. 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