Dr. Frank S.U. Jacobs, ninth president of the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), gives us, in brief, his forecast for 2016 as it concerns manufacturers in the country.
What is your forecast for 2016?
2016 will, no doubt, be a very tough year, because the current challenges in terms of forex inflow cannot disappear soon. The government has articulated a very promising budget, but the success of the budget is hinged on a number of factors, some of which may be outside the control of the government, such as the price of crude oil in the international oil market. Secondly, the diversification of the economy, from which the government hopes to get some inflow, may not be achieved easily. On security, the fight against insurgency appears to be progressing well. If we continue this way, the country will witness less hostility and this could lead to stability in the polity. With such stability, the economy will likely improve.
Manufacturers, including the Lagos Chamber, have complained about exchange rate and import restrictions. How soon do you expect to see any changes?
It cannot be in the immediate future, because unless the issues revolving around forex inflow are addressed, forex inflow may take some time to improve and import restrictions cannot be relaxed soon.
What do you project will be the three biggest challenges for manufacturers this year?
The three biggest challenges manufacturers may experience are forex restriction and availability of raw materials, infrastructure and the high cost of doing business, and the low standard of local products
By how much do you think government will raise taxes to cover the 2016 budget deficit?
It is difficult to say by how much taxes will be raised. The issue is not about tax rates, but coverage. The important thing is that the tax net should be widened. If this is done, a lot of tax income will be realised. What three important things must manufacturers do to survive in 2016? Look inwards for raw materials supply where it is available locally, prudent management of resources so as to remain competitive and professionalization of their workforce.
What are your personal financial goals for this year?
To remain afloat, be competitive and expand my business.