By Charles Okonji
The Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) has called on the Federal Government to immediately reverse the recent ban imposed on spirit drinks in sachets and PET bottles less than 200ml.
This was contained in a document made available to the press, which was signed by the Director General of the Association, Segun Ajayi-Kadir.
According to the document, MAN insists that the ban be reversed immediately and replaced with regulations and access control such as, “Establishment of licensed liquor stores/outlets by LGAs across the country. Suspected underage persons (under 18) should be required to show I.D to purchase alcoholic beverages as practiced in some other climes. Tighten enforcement by law enforcement agencies, Increased monitoring and compliance checks by NAFDAC, FCCPC and others to ensure strict product quality in terms of content and safety.”
The DG argued that attributing the alleged increase in the use of hard drugs to the production and sales of alcoholic drinks in sachets and small PET bottles is incorrect, adding that no scientific or other studies have proven this claim.
He stressed that packaging and sales of alcoholic beverages in sachets and PET bottles has not been shown to be the reason for irresponsible use in terms of quantity, intoxication and other menaces.
He pointed out that this ban will certainly lead to black market or bootlegging, influx and proliferation of fake and adulterated products.
He noted that the ban will also damage local manufacturing and negatively affect the economy, as well as the social wellbeing of the people of Nigeria.
According to the MAN Boss, the proposed ban is at variance with the right of private entrepreneurs to invest and engage in legitimate business.
“Besides, the proposed policy would amount to a deliberate destruction of the business of local and indigenous investors who through thick and thin have kept faith with the Nigerian Economy.
“They have continued to invest and reinvest at enormous cost in the Economy and in the Nigerian people who are the bulk of its nearly Five Hundred thousand people workforce. This is in spite of the daunting challenges that businesses have faced in the difficult times, which if we must emphasize, has led to several companies closing down and foreign investors leaving the Country.
“We are convinced that this present administration‘s Renewed Hope Agenda will not be best served with this ban. If the administration is committed to encouraging and strengthening local investors, then this ban should give way to access control.
At the least, one would expect that NAFDAC should allow due process of full legislative hearings by the appropriate House Committee to take place, so that relevant stakeholders can engage and the public will know the factual, expert and well-informed opinions.
“Also, the Ministerial Technical Committee should be allowed to complete its work. It is important to know that the industries have invested hundreds of billions of naira not only in the business, but overtime in packaging and distribution. Most of the huge investments are backed by enormous indebtedness to both foreign and local financial institutions It should also be borne in mind that prior to the investment made by the companies, in the packaging, distribution, logistics and advertisement of their products, the necessary approval were obtained thus prompting them to make said investments. This is what the ban is going to wreck for no justifiable reason. It must be explicitly stated: Moderation and responsible drinking promote good health. SMALL is good, if you buy small you will consume small. If you buy big you will consume big, this is not HEALTHY.
“Bigger sizes encourage consumption of bigger portions, while small sizes encourage portion control. If you take away small sizes, you are encouraging excessive consumption of alcoholic beverages. To go ahead with the policy based on perceived danger, without empirical information and not minding the consequences is unfair to the industry operators, the thousands of workers that will lose their jobs and inimical to Nigerian economy,” he emphasized.
By Charles Okonji