The Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige has assured members of the National Union of Food, Beverage and Tobacco Joint Employers and Workers Association that the Federal Government will review the newly introduced 500% excise duty on locally produced alcoholic beverages to save the sector from imminent collapse and forestall the consequent loss of about two hundred thousand jobs.
“You have written to the Federal Government through me that the increase in excise duty on alcohol and beverages will create job losses because once you add a new cost and pass it on, there will be consumer resistance, resulting in low patronage whereas the products coming from overseas that are being smuggled in which are cheap, will take over the market. It is a statement of fact,” he said.
Ngige promised that President Buhari would “definitely ask the Minister of Finance and the economic management team to review the tariff. We cannot afford to create poverty and job losses here while promoting abundant jobs in other countries. Job losses are not part of this government and will not support the 500% tariff increase.”
Ngige was speaking during a visit by the leaders of the association who were in his office on a Save Our Soul (SOS) mission. He assured the delegation that the Federal Government through the Custom and Excise Department was working round the clock to tame the activities of smugglers so as to save local industries.
Earlier in their address, the leader of the delegation and the Acting General Secretary of the Union, Mike Olarenwaju, said the 500% tariff increase by the Ministry of Finance on their products was counter-productive as the measure was an assured destruction of the sector.
He said they were on SOS to the Minister to save the sector from going the way of the textile industry as well as prevent the loss of about 200, 000 jobs with the attendant economic and social consequences.
The union further raised fears on the displacement of workers by the creeping automation regime in the industries to which the Minister assured that the demerits of new technology will be modulated by policy of compliance to Corporate Social Responsibility Policy in order to give jobs to the locals where the industries are sited.