Coalition storms National Assembly, protests hike in tariffs of tobacco, beverages

Posted by Mayowa Okekale, Abuja | 23 May 2018 | 782 times

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•BRG members during Tuesday’s protest at the National Assembly

A coalition of Non-Governmental Organisations led by Business Renaissance Group (BRG) on Tuesday stormed the National Assembly on a peaceful protest against the hike in tariff of tobacco and alcoholic beverages.

BRG restated that the astronomical increase in the tariff is counter-productive and will lead to massive job loss, turn the country into a dump-yard for foreign products, further pauperise Nigerians and stifle growth in an otherwise resilient sector of the economy.

The group also warned that if immediate steps are not taken to review the new excise legislation, the local wines and spirits industry will be prone to massive job loss of about 25,000 direct employees and over 200,000 indirect employees and beneficiaries.

Last month in its meeting, BRG had given the Federal Government an ultimatum of a 30-day period to revert the upward review of excise duty legislation on locally produced alcoholic beverages and tobacco, yet nothing has been done.

While addressing journalists at the entrance of the National Assembly, President of the Coalition for NGOs, Mazi Omife I. Omife, said: “We are here to present our case to the Nigerian Senate to come to our aid on this issue. And at the same time, we are appealing to the Minister of Finance, Mrs Kemi Adeosun to rescind his decision on the hike in the interest of Nigerians. She should not create job losses in the country. We made efforts to talk to her but they were not forthcoming.”

Mazi Omife further emphasised that nothing should be done to endanger the wines and spirits sector which presently employs about 250,000 Nigerians with an investment portfolio of about N420 billion.

He added that the Wines and Spirit industry is one of the few surviving sectors of the Nigerian economy and all patriots and men of good conscience should strive to ensure that the secret flourishes.

However, Mrs Aminat Musa of the Department of Sergeant at Arms received the letter from Mazi Omife,

In his contribution, the Coordinator of the Coalition group, Dr. Ike Ikegbunam, while responding to questions from newsmen, said that “the review is not timely and not in the best interest of the country for now and called on the government to immediately review the decision.”

He further said: “This act by the FG has led to loss of jobs for many Nigerians and has allowed different vices to be emulated by those who are jobless.”

Source: News Express

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