SENATE COMMITTEE TO INVESTIGATE PAPER MILL
Senate has mandated its Committee on Privatization to investigate the operations and non-performance of paper mills sold by the Bureau of Public Enterprises, BPE to private interests.
The decision was reached sequel to the consideration of a motion, titled: “The need to revive the Moribund Paper Mills in Nigeria” by Senator Stephen Ekpenyong (PDP Akwa Ibom North West).
Presenting the motion, Ekpenyong recalled that Nigeria’s three paper mills: Nigeria Paper Mill, NPM in Kwara State; Nigeria Newsprint Manufacturing Company, NNMC, Akwa Ibom State and Nigeria National Paper Manufacturing Company, Ogun State were established by the federal government in the 1960s and 1970s.
According to him, 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.
Ekpeyong noted that the paper mills were privatized by government as a result of non-performance and lack of adequate funds to run them, adding that “paper production is one of the major activities regarded as a pointer to industrialization and educational development worldwide, making the sector a major booster to the economy.”
He expressed concern that “the sector has gone moribund since privatization, leaving the country with another huge income deficit.”
Ekpeyong added that, “recent statistics by the Raw Material Research and Development Council (RMRDC) indicate that Nigeria lost over 800 billion naira annually to paper importation, while the Printers Association of Nigeria put the figure at $1trillion US dollars annually through the importation of over one million metric tons of paper at the cost of $1,000 US dollars per tones.”
According to him, the mills formerly had a workforce of over 300,000 people and an investment worth over N100 billion before the privatization policy by the government.
He expressed further worry that the unhealthy state of the printing industry is adversely affecting the education sector.
The Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, in his remark, called on the Committee on Privatization to summon the Bureau of Public Enterprises to probe the non-performance of paper mills in the country.
Accordingly, the Senate in its resolution urged the Chartered Institute of Professional Printers of Nigeria, CIPPON and 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.
This was just as the upper legislative chamber rejected a call on the federal government to establish Federal Paper Mills in each geo-political zones of the country.