Despite Federal Government’s warning over distortion in National Sugar Master Plan (NSMP), importers have ordered 1.93 million tonnes of sugar valued at N527 billion ($925.05 million) for 2022.
The NSMP, which started in 2013, is a 10-year roadmap designed for the sector to enable the country attain self-sufficiency in sugar production, create jobs and generate electricity, among other objectives.
But nine years after, the programme has not achieved its primary objective as findings by New Telegraph revealed that local production stood at 75,000 metric tonne as at 2021 instead of 1.7 million tonnes envisaged under government’s Backward Integration Programme (BIP), leading to a deficit of 93.3 per cent or 1.62 million tonnes.
The country had projected to meet 800,000 tonnes target of raw sugar production by 2022, but there is fear that Nigeria would not meet up to five per cent target. Data from National Sugar Development Council (NSDC) revealed that in 2016, local production of refined sugar was 25,000 tonnes; 2017, 20,184 tonnes; 2018, 14,918 tonnes and 2019, 28,597 tonnes, thereby, leading to massive importation.
At the Lagos Port Complex alone, four vessels have arrived with 158,000 tonnes for the month of February. Data by the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA)’s shipping position revealed that one of the vessels, Baltic Mantis, berthed with 47,000 tonnes of the commodity at Greenview Development Nigeria Limited (GDNL).
Also at the terminal, Chayanee Naree and Karteria have been moored to offload 46,000 tonnes and 45,000 tonnes respectively, while Doro arrived on Sunday with 20,000 tonnes.
The National Sugar Development Council (NSDC) had also in its guideline stated that with the approval of the Nigerian NSMP by the Federal Government, importation of all kinds of sugar shall be based on the issuance of annual import permit.
It said: “All sugar importation shall be approved by the President on the recommendation of the Honourable Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment. Any sugar consignment imported without Presidential approval shall be classified as contraband and be confiscated by the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS).”
The council also gave incentives to boost domestic production of the commodity as follows: a five-year tax for investors in the value chain; 10 per cent import duty and 50 per cent levy on imported raw sugar; 20 per cent duty and 60 per cent levy for imported refined sugar.
It was gathered that importers had been hiding under the guidelines and incentives to import both raw and refined sugar into the country, leading to massive imports.
The huge exports, it was learnt, had blighted government’s decision to provide 110,000 jobs under the BIP.
According to Trade Data Monitor (TDM), Brazil’s cumulative raw sugar exports to Nigeria from April 2019 to March 2020 season was 1.59 million tonnes valued at N312.4 billion ($637.6 million), while in 2020/21 season imported raw sugar was 1.62 million tonnes valued at N318.3 billion ($649.6 million).
Worried by the huge import and the masterplan target, the Executive Secretary of NSDC, Mr Zacch Adedeji, said recently that government would not tolerate deliberate distortion of the sugar master plan by any of the operators under whatever guise.
Adedeji, while on a working visit to Dangote Sugar Refinery (DSR), Numan, in Adamawa State, said that the Federal Government was determined to revitalise the sector for the benefit of Nigerians, saying that government would not hesitate to punish anyone or group persons with the intention of sabotaging its efforts in the sector.
In a statement by Head, Media and Public Affairs, NSDC, Abdullahi Yunusa, the executive secretary appealed to the major operators in the sector on the supremacy of the master plan currently in operation, adding that it was no longer a policy but an Act of the National Assembly. He added: “ We will not tolerate distortion of the master plan.
The president is committed to implementing to the latter what we have in the master plan. “On our part as the regulator, we will not hesitate to apply the full weight of the law against anyone trying to sabotage the effort of government in this sector.”
On investments in the sector in the last seven years, Adedeji stressed that the sector had notable business groups like the Dangote Sugar Refinery, BUA Sugar Refinery and Golden Sugar Refinery that were currently implementing the Backward Integration Programme (BIP) component of the NSMP