The Textile, Garments & Tailoring Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (TGTSSAN) has appealed to the Federal Government to reduce the exchange rate, particularly for the the textile sector.
Its President, Ambi Karu, said the textile sector has been performing dismally for many years, attributing it to the difficulty in sourcing foreign exchange at affordable rate to enable investors import machines and other equipment for operation.
He said: “More than 200 textile firms have been shut as a result of systemic challenges, while some have reduced their production, staff strength and remuneration of workers.
“In fact, more than half of the surviving firms are classified as ailing, thus posing serious threat to the survival of the manufacturing sector. Without much discussion on this, you can see that the major challenge facing the sector is the inability of manufacturers to access foreign exchange as a result of its exorbitant rate coupled with its acute scarcity, which has been restricting the ability of manufacturers to import raw materials for production, as well as import necessary machines and spare parts.”
Kanu said inadequate infrastructure, especially power, has resulted to the closing of many textile firms since they could not operate at high cost of production and remain in business.
On the influx of textile materials the union chief said there was nothing stoping the government from putting a legislation in place to support the industry.
He said there should be a policy to ban cheap textile materials imports, saying the borders should be patrolled by Customs officials to prevent smuggling.
“The Nigeria Customs Service should be patriotic enough and eschew the act of conniving with smugglers to ruin the industry by allowing smuggled materials into the market,” he said.
He pointed out that the ban foreign materials import would protect indigenous firms, which would in turn, strive to produce textiles of international standard. He urged the government to encourage made-in-Nigeria products, adding that this would boost the sector.
He said: “You will recall that the “Made-in-Nigeria policy as applied to the auto industry was an aspect of the National Automotive Industry Plan.
“That plan received broad-based acceptability by stakeholders, including the auto-producers. As good as that plan may be, it was not implemented to its letter and spirit. In our sector, it is not going to be the same given the fact that the cost of buying textile materials is never the same as that of buying automobiles. And don’t forget that our local textile manufacturers are really competing with their foreign counterparts.”
Karu said there was the need for the government to formulate policies that would guarantee continuous survival of the textile industry in the country and ensure the effective implementation of the policies through the declaration of a “National Dressing Day” in local fabrics.
“The implementation would boost the textile industry through influencing Nigerians to wear and decorate African fabrics. Apart from a special day, Nigerians should be encouraged to be adorning locally made textile such as Ankara to work during the week days; not only on Fridays, and weekends.”
He said there was nothing wrong for the government to give the local textile firms a 90 per cent rebate on cost of generated power.
He said this was necessary because between 30 per cent and 35 per cent of textile and garment manufacturing costs were energy-related.
“In fact, the government should even consider giving the textile plants zero percent CBN interest loan to build embedded power plants or pipelines to get gas to their factories,” he said.