The Federal Government may exclude micro, small and medium enterprises from the recently re-introduced N10 per litre excise duty for carbonated drinks, Minister of Trade and Investment, Otunba Niyi Adebayo, has said.

The minister stated this at the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria Export Promotion Group Annual General Meeting which was held in Lagos on Thursday.

According to him, the office of the Ministry of Trade and Investment was open to engaging the relevant agencies of government in order to eliminate the bottlenecks confronting the productive sector.

Asked why the Federal Government had looked the other way while MSMEs were placed on the same footing with multinational firms with regard to taxes and duties, the Minister said his ministry would work to ease the burden on the small- and micro-scale businesses.

“Write to me officially, we will engage the Ministry of Finance and see what kind of intervention we can get for MSMEs. Government policy is always to assist, so if we see anything that will be a problem for them, we’ll see what we can do to address those problems.”

The promise of intervention by the Minister followed earlier complaints by MSMEs operators who lamented that the re-introduced excise duty had led to skyrocketing production costs.

The MSMEs operators, who are in the production of carbonated drinks, alleged that it would cost a single operator N4.8m every year to complete the registration process and also comply with other mandatory charges imposed by the Nigeria Customs Service.

While the immediate past President of the Nigeria Association of Small Scale Industrialists, Segun Kuti-George, had faulted the decision of the Federal Government to impose the N10/litre tax on carbonated drinks for manufacturers across the board.

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