Pioneer tomato paste manufacturer in Nigeria Erisco Foods Limited has stated that it would retrench 1,500 of its work force following the frustration the company was facing in the hands of government agencies, which has persisted for a long period.
Chief Erick Umeofia, the president and CEO, Erisco Foods Limited, who disclosed this on Wednesday while addressing news men in Lagos noted that he had given the federal government 30 days ultimatum to address the harsh conditions of doing business in the country, especially the refusal of the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, to grant him foreign exchange for the import of non-locally available raw materials.
He lamented that his company has lost over N3.5 billion in its contribution towards industrializing the Nigerian economy, adding that if nothing was done at the expiration of 30 days, he would relocate its production base to another country.
He accused the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment and the National Agency for Food Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) of aiding the economic saboteurs.
He lamented that the Central Bank of Nigeria has refused to give the company FOREX to import machineries, machine spare parts and raw materials.
“Unfortunately, the same CBN approved intervention loan and FOREX to companies mostly owned by foreigners to import the same finished tomato paste and other items like frozen fish, fish heads and supper market items that we don’t need at all or we can produce better in Nigeria,” he said.
Umofia stressed that $15.1 million was allocated to an Indian company in one bidding at the exchange rate of N280 per dollar, while Erisco Foods is running its factory with FOREX sourced from parallel market at the exchange rate of over N450 per dollar, which CBN claimed it was for future contract.
He noted; “CBN refused to give us approval till date to use our own deposit of $460,000 we made to one of our raw material suppliers even before the 41- item FOREX importation ban but CBN approved Nigeria’s scarce FOREX to other companies to continue to import substandard products into Nigeria.”
He said; “How can the indigenous manufacturers keep supporting government and making sacrifices to their country and CBN will be allocating scarce FOREX to companies mostly owned by foreigners to cat away our scarce earnings to develop their own countries.”
However; the decision by Erisco Foods has triggered massive protests by workers of the factory who called on the federal government to save local manufacturers.
Mr. Ayoola Oladayo, area sales manager of the company called on the federal government to save their jobs by addressing the issues itemised by its Chief Executive, stressing that the management was threatening to shut down within 30 days, which means 5,000 families will go hungry and jobless.
He urged the government to make available, FOREX to the company at the official rate in order to save their jobs so as to avoid calamities.