•Seeks return to ports
The Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON) has partnered with the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) in a bid to reduce the influx of sub-standard products in the country, even as it restated its resolve to return to the seaports.
According to the agency, it has become challenging to track containers without their presence at the ports, adding that manufacturers have a responsibility to help the regulator to identify non-complying importers.
Speaking during a courtesy visit to MAN secretariat in Lagos, the SON Director-General, Farouk Salim, disclosed that the regulator would soon roll out a product authentication scheme in order to protect local
Similarly, SON and MAN are exploring options with a user-friendly product authentication mark to protect genuine manufacturers across the country. SON boss, Salim, said the priority of the standards body was to protect local and genuine manufacturers, noting that the agency has been working relentlessly to find a user-friendly and cost-effective way of introducing
In his words, “Our priority is to protect our local industries because these industries have faith and confidence in the Nigerian economy; hence, we need to protect their investment. I want to assure you that I am part of you and we support you 100 per cent.
“We are trying to find a more user-friendly way of introducing product marks. I feel that we can work together for manufacturers to voluntarily carry product marks while people importing would go through the scheme.
That way, if there is an additional cost, it would be on those importing into the country.
“The advantage is that if the product authentication mark succeeds, local manufacturers would join voluntarily because they have seen the value in it while on the other hand, if we implement it, we will make sure that all
imported products go through a certain level of scrutiny.”
He said the agency would intensify its partnership with MAN to identify genuine local manufacturers, saying whatever existing benefits the association enjoys would be improved upon.
MAN President, Ahmed Mansur, stated that the presence of SON at the seaports would enhance the regulator’s efficiency and that chasing containers on the highways and markets has a negative impact on their
Ahmed called for support and cooperation of the government and private sector players to check counterfeiting and illicit businesses across the country. In his words: ‘‘We have made strong representations to the relevant ministries and the agencies and we are making steady progress to ensure that there would be smooth operations at the ports when SON is returned.
“I believe that when they do that, the whole system will be harmonised so as not to generate congestion at the ports. That was what led to the problem, but I believe that with the use of technology, better system would be put in place so that SON would be linked with other agencies to have one-stop shop.’’
“Whatever existing benefits the association has with the standards body can only be improved. We have concessions that we give to MAN and this is one of the ways we encourage manufacturers to join MAN because they get the benefit of our concession and whatever certificate we get from MAN, we are going to honour it,” he assured.
The SON helmsman said to combat the influx of substandard goods, there is an urgent need to deploy robust cooperation between SON, MAN and other captains of industry.
“We have collaborated and helped to grow the manufacturing sector and indeed, improve the operating environment and the investment climate,” Salim said.
He said the MoU would help to identify issues that affect the operations of the industrial sector, which he said, are best resolved through discussions, dialogues and cooperation.
“We have recently observed the proliferation of issuance of MANCAP to new and unverified companies leading to the influx of substandard goods in the market. There are also claims that there have been inadequate testing laboratories leading to additional cost of members that will have to do their test elsewhere. We want to appeal to you on ways on which some of these challenges would be resolved significantly,” he said.
Salim advocated an increase in the levies, charges and penalties imposed on unscrupulous dealers in substandard goods, saying “We are asking that you raise the bar for minimum penalty on those importing and distributing fake and substandard products.”