The Federal Government says the ban on the importation of packaged sugar four years ago still stands and strict measures will be enforced against defaulters.
Dr Latif Busari, Executive Secretary, National Sugar Development Council (NSDC), stated this at a news conference in Abuja on Thursday.
According to Busari, the continued smuggling of the product into the country is a hindrance to local producers, who are struggling to have a chunk of the market share.
“There is no gain saying the fact that those who engage in illegal importation of these banned products are daily inflicting incalculable damage to local producers of the same commodities in the country.
“Government cannot afford to look the other way while economic saboteurs who come under the guise of businessmen continue to frustrate genuine efforts geared towards building our economy.
“Regrettably, despite sustained efforts by the council and other government agencies to protect the interest of local investors in the sugar industry to enforce the ban on importation of packaged sugar, we have discovered that different brands of this product still line the shelves of big retail outlets and wholesale stores across major cities in the country.’’
Busari said as part of its efforts to grow the country’s local sugar industry and attract investment into the downstream segment of the business, the Federal Government in 2013 banned the importation of packaged sugar.
He stated that merely packaging or producing cube-shaped sugar is not rocket science as Nigerians are capable of doing it given small amount of capital.
The executive secretary said the aim of the ban was being defeated by the continued influx of imported packaged sugar, particularly the St. Louis brand, into Nigeria.
He said that when the ban was announced, the council had asked the major importer of the St. Louis brand to start its local production in the country if it wanted Nigerians to still consume it.
Busari said the importer sought for and procured an exemption for 18 months to enable them go into partnership with local producers.
He added that after two years of the expiration of the exemption, they did not set up any production facilities.
He said while they claim to have stopped its importation, the brand was still being seen in markets and shops.
“Our position on this matter has not changed. We want importers of banned packaged sugar to either produce in Nigeria or take them elsewhere.
“This position is in line with Section 9.3.1 (IV) of the Nigerian Sugar Master Plan (NSMP) as approved.
“What we are saying is that importers of sugar in retail packs should invest in local packaging facilities within and bring their equipment to Nigeria to produce under the plan, and thereby also help to create jobs for our people.’’
He advised Nigerians to always patronise locally made products in order to create more jobs for the youths and also generate more revenue for the country. (NAN)