NATIONAL Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) is poised to continue to encourage the micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) in order to harness the potentials of trade and investment for the nation’s economic growth and sustainability.
Director General of NAFDAC, Mojisola Adeyeye said this recently at the National Trade and Investment Summit, 2020, where she reiterated the importance of the MSMEs in the development and growth of the nation’s economy.
She disclosed that NAFDAC, alongside other national stakeholders on the National Action Committee (NAC) for the implementation of African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA), is fully and totally committed to its successful implementation, once it comes into effect (probably, 2021).
According to her, this is because of its advantages to Nigeria’s economy and healthy competition it will engender in the operations of MSMEs in the non-oil sector of the national economy.
Towards this end, Prof Adeyeye pointed out that NAFDAC is on the train of the NAC Secretariat that is sensitising and building the capacity of stakeholders, particularly on AfCFTA Agreements on Non Tariff Barriers (NTBs), Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT) and Agreement on Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS).
”This is in addition to her advocacy on the need to improve all the national and regulatory infrastructures that will reduce the cost of production and make the MSME products competitive in the AfCFTA Area. All our operations are set and ready to accommodate AfCFTA”.
The NAFDAC DG noted that the economy of Nigeria is undergoing diversification from oil to non-oil products, stressing that the MSME sector would play a critical role to achieve this transformation.
Upon formalisation of processes, she said MSMEs would get involved in export of regulated products including food – shea butter, honey among others.
To enable a platform for trade to be seamless, she further explained that NAFDAC is involved in collaboration with sister agencies. Towards this objective, Prof Adeyeye disclosed that NAFDAC on August 9, 2019, held an interactive stakeholders meeting on effective inter-agencies collaboration to diversify Nigerian economy through export. The staff of the Nigerian Customs Service, Standard Organisation of Nigeria, Nigerian Postal Service, Nigeran Shippers Council, and the media attended the programme.
Globally, MSMEs contribute up to 45% of total employment and up to 33% of national income in emerging economies. In a recent review of 2017 survey according to National Policy on MSMEs, it was revealed that in Nigeria, there were 41.4 million MSMEs.
In the words of the Vice President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, MSMEs are the bedrock of Nigeria’s industrialisation and inclusive economic development; and the most important component of industrialisation as set out in the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan.
Prof Adeyeye however, emphasised that the significance of MSMEs in the nation’s economy cannot, therefore, be over-emphasised, stressing that if enabling environment is provided, MSMEs could get the country out of the present predicament of unacceptable rate of unemployment, illicit financial engagements, insecurity, political and social violence.
‘There is a need to recognise their role in employment provision and to encourage, grow and support the sub-sector”.
She said that NAFDAC, being an active member of the Presidential Enabling Environment Council (PEBEC) had continued to support the job creation agenda of the present administration in line with the provisions of Executive Order No. 001.
One of the provisions, she said, was to create an enabling environment for businesses, entrench measures and strategies aimed at promoting transparency and efficiency. The agency carried out a lot of reforms of its activities to create an enabling environment for MSMEs businesses to thrive, focusing on micro and small companies.
She however, said that the agency ensures that only quality products that are safe, efficacious and wholesome reach the market and ultimately, the consuming public.
”This is achieved through vigorous regulatory activities, including inspection of production facilities, sampling, review of labeling information, laboratory evaluation, post marketing surveillance, enforcement etc.”
She said that she had enhanced the processing of all NAFDAC licenses (Approvals, Certificates and Permits) to ensure efficiency and elimination of person to person contact, leading to the availability of end-to-end online automated processing platforms with outputs being digitised electronic licenses.
To further encourage the sector, she recalled that on May 15, 2020, NAFDAC launched the assisted registration through NAFDAC Automated Product Administration and Monitoring System (NAPAMS) for MSMEs as a means in easing their registration processes. The launch ran concurrently in the six geo-political zones plus FCT and Lagos State.
As a proactive response to the challenges of COVID-19 pandemic, Prof Adeyeye said the agency instituted palliatives for the micro and small businesses which included offering zero tariffs for the first 200 micro and small companies to register their products on the launch day and 80% reduction in tariffs for the registration of micro and small enterprises products for a period of six (6) months.
She added that waivers were granted on administrative charges for late renewal of expired licenses for products of micro and small businesses, adding that micro and small enterprises within the MSME classes of business were encouraged at the forum to take advantage of these laudable incentives to massively embark on e-registration of their products and the feedback was overwhelming.
”I would however like the Industry to support NAFDAC by adhering to the agency’s laws, regulations, and guidelines while doing business to ensure quality standards and safety’, she said.