An entrepreneur, Mr. Muideen Ibrahim, has said locally-produced pencils will save the country over $2.4 billion (N734.4 billion), if supported by the Federal Government.
Ibrahim, the chief executive officer, BAMIB Resources and Investment Company Limited, stated this in Lagos.
He said it was important for the government to discourage importation of goods that could be produced in the country.
The manufacturer called for government support to indigenous pencil firms to prevent its importation.
“There are a lot of multiplier effects we shall give the country, some of which are backward integration of our major raw materials and basic components and massive employment opportunities and contribution to the gross domestic product (GDP). It will also aid strategic investments in other sectors and boost foreign direct investments, among others,” he said.
Ibrahim said there was need for the government to increase the tariffs on imported pencils or ban its importation to encourage indigenous pencil manufacturers. He said this had worked in the rice sector and other allied products.
He said as a result of this, a lot of people went into rice production and the country was better for it.
Ibrahim urged the government to do something urgently for the pencil manufacturers as local manufacturers were suffering and dying. He urged the government to enforce the Executive Order 3 and Executive Order 5 to the letter for effective patronage of local products.
He said: “Unfortunately, the government is still paying lip service to these very good and apt Executive Orders. There must be a committee that will drive these orders and make them work.
“Not only that, the government must walk the talk on ease of doing business. This is one of the ways to help local manufacturers. Aside from that, there must be aggressive promotions on patriotism.
“I wonder what is happening to the National Orientation Agency. That agency used to be very vibrant. Call the manufacturers to a roundtable and the government must implement their decisions. The bane of our challenge in this country is implementation of policies.”
He said BAMIB’s production capacity is in excess of 450 million pencils yearly. He said there was room for expansion, adding that it was a function of demand and supply.
He said the company had not broken even and could not even meet its obligations promptly because of many challenges that were militating against it. He however noted that the challenges were surmountable, if the government intervened to ensure sustainability.
“The challenges confronting us are so numerous, some of which are unhealthy rivalry and stiff competition from low quality pencils from some foreign countries.
They use price mechanism to push us out of the market and we cannot sell below our cost price due to the fact that we are operating in a harsh environment and thereby making our production cost high.
Multiple taxation and are ports congestion are another big challenge. There are so many agencies at the various ports, technology can be deployed in the ports for efficiency and effectiveness.