By Izuchukwu Ozoemena
A call has gone out to the federal government to urgently review regulations on sugar importation, by applying high tariff to discourage importation of the product.
The call followed a motion by Rep. Iboro Ekanem (Akwa Ibom-PDP) at the plenary on Thursday on the need to regularize the importation of sugar, while boosting domestic production and economic growth. He said that billions of naira was being lost to sugar importation annually.
”The House notes that Nigeria has spent $8.44 billion in importing sugar over the last 27 years, and loses at least $600 million annually to the importation of sugar for domestic consumption,” he said.
Ekanem recalled that the National Sugar Development Council (NSDC) was established to speed up the development of the sugar industry to ensure that the country attains at least 70 per cent self-sufficiency in sugar requirement within the shortest time possible.
He said that the council was also mandated to export sugar in order to earn foreign exchange, but said that NSDC had failed in its mandate. If excess sugar importation was not regulated to save money lost annually, he pointed out, Nigeria’s National Sugar Policy, Local Content Policy and the existence of the NSDC would continue to be irrelevant.
The lawmaker said that if the situation remains unchecked, the country may continue to lose revenue to importation of sugar. Ekanem said since Nigeria had the potential, excellent climatic conditions and resources to engage in sugar production for self-sufficiency, there was need for urgent action.
When the motion was put on a voice vote, the lawmakers adopted it and urged the Federal Government to establish a National Sugar Plantation Programme to boost production of the product for local needs. The Committee on Industry was mandated to interface with the NSDC for an update on sugar importation and the implementation of a National Sugar Policy. The committee has four weeks for the assignment.