By Chinyere Bassey
Lagos – Mr Babatunde Olatunji, the President of National Union of Chemical Footwear, Rubber, Leather and Non-Metallic Products Employees (NUCFRLNMPE), has called for more `pro-business’ regulations to improve private sector operations in the country.
Olatunji, who spoke with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Friday in Lagos, said the business environment had remained unhelpful in spite of certain reforms instituted by the government.
NAN reports that some analysts at a Lagos-based investment firm, Afrinvest Plc., had said that the Federal Government needed to do more than improving the nation’s Ease of Doing Business ranking to attract Foreign Direct Investment.
The NUCFRLNMPE’s president noted that the pro-business regulations should be relief in import duty as well as reduction in cost, time and procedures in starting and operating a business.
“The Federal Government should encourage the private sector by providing stable electricity.
“ Manufacturers spent huge sums on power supply which affect cost of production.
“Some companies do not have access to gas due to their location. Producers need easy access to foreign exchange.
“ If this continues, local products will not be able to compete favourably with imported goods,” he added.
The union leader urged government to ban imported plastics as local manufacturers were capable of producing and supplying enough quantity for the country.
According to him, the leather and footwear sector now has less than 20,000 workers against over 30,000 in the last three years because of retrenchment.
He, however, said that if the ease of doing business was not improved on, it would be difficult for business operators that diversify to make profit and retain workers.
“If a particular imported good is cheaper than local one because of cost of production, people will buy the imported one.
“ The local producer will be forced to shut business and lay off workers which is not good for the economy,” he said.
He called on President Muhammadu Buhari to create opportunities that would attract more investors and provide more jobs.
“We expect the president to use this second tenure to improve on areas that will benefit the masses. Let him continue in the fight to tackle corruption,” Olatunji said.
He also called on the government to sustain its battle to protect lives and properties. (NAN)