Senate probes sale of paper mills, seeks tariff reduction
The Senate on Tuesday asked its Committee on Privatisation to summon the Bureau of Public Enterprises to probe the non -performance of paper mills in the country.
The panel is expected to investigate the operations and non -performance of the paper mills sold by the BPE to private interests.
He expressed concern that the sector had gone moribund since privatisation, leaving the country with another huge income deficit.
He said, “Recent statistics by the Raw Material Research and Development Council indicate that Nigeria lost over N800bn annually to paper importation, while the Printers Association of Nigeria put the figure at $1trn annually through the importation of over one million metric tons of paper at the cost of $1,000 per ton.”
“Statistics show that over 100 million books are required annually in the country for the 20 million students in schools and by the National Book Policy, five books are the requirement set per pupil. 75 per cent of these books are printed outside the country,” Ekpeyong added.
The Senate also urged the Chartered Institute of Professional Printers of Nigeria and the Nigeria Customs Service to review duty on importation of paper as raw materials into the country and make it favourable to print locally in Nigeria.
The decision was reached sequel to the consideration of a motion on “The Need to Revive the Moribund Paper Mills in Nigeria.”
Sponsor of the motion, Senator Stephen Ekpenyong, recalled that Nigeria’s three Paper Mills: Nigeria Paper Mill in Kwara State, the Nigeria Newsprint Manufacturing Company in Akwa Ibom State and the Nigeria National Paper Manufacturing Company in Ogun State were established by the Federal Government in the 1960s and 1970s.
President, Ahmad Lawan, said, “All our paper mills are privatised, and in the seventh Senate, we investigated the public enterprises that were privatised. What we need to do is to investigate.
“We need to know how far those private investors who took over the control of our paper mills are compliant with the signed shared purchase agreement?
“So, our committee on privatization should be able to do that. Where these investors have failed to move the paper mill industry forward, government should know what to do,” Lawan said.
While moving the motion, Ekpeyong said the mills produced corrugated cartons, sack craft paper, kraft paper, linear and chip board as well as fluting media to meet the country’s needs in writing and printing papers.
The lawmakers noted that the Paper Mills were privatised by government as a result of non -performance and lack of adequate funds to run them.