*Tasks Buhari on ALSCON
Port Harcourt — The Institute of Chartered Economists of Nigeria, ICEN, says the Federal Government’s resolve to complete and commence operations on Ajaokuta Steel Company Limited in earnest, is essential for industrialization, economic rebirth and growth, given its economic importance to the country.
This is as President Muhammadu Buhari and his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, recently brokered a deal to pursue completion of the remaining two percent abandoned phase one of the ASCL project.
The South South Coordinator of ICEN, Mr. Friday Udoh, said the Aluminium Smelter Company of Nigeria, ALSCON, is inextricably linked with Ajaokuta Steel, urging the Federal Government to adopt expansive macroeconomic policies to restore demand, employment, growth and reformation of the economy.
Udoh said for a strong economic recovery and accelerated growth, steel sector development is prerequisite for achieving progress in political and socio-economic front of Nigeria’s economy attaining a vantage position, given the fact that it must be built on a strong decision making mechanism of the government.
He pointed out that the reactivation, completion and expansion of phase one of ASCL to accommodate rail components production facility, and flat steel production facilities, considered critical for industrialization, would grow the nation’s economy and increase its GDP growth.
“The Federal Government’s resolve to complete the remaining 2 percent of phase 1 and ensuring the commencement of the operation of this plant in earnest is sine qua non for industrialization, economic rebirth and growth, given its economic importance to the country and the decision is laudable.
“The completion of phase 1 essentially includes programs for provision of a rail and flat steel production facilities to service automobile industry, military hardware’s, aero industries, hydrocarbon exploration, exploitation and Production operation, Agriculture sector, maritime-ship building, rail industries, allied industries thither but important things of life from simple razor blades to knives and forks and the printed newspaper etc.
“That the existing facilities are in accordance with the international standard, influenced by Russian design implicitly the equipments and steel structures are designed and constructed in an extraordinarily larger form that accorded the plan an advantage to the same degree offering advantages to the new contractor thither building on a strong capability derived from human capital acquired from the erstwhile project contractor.
“Given the fact that large volume of freight projected from above 1.3 tons per year’s nominal production capacity plant, capable of generating 3-6million tons in freight comprising of finished products, raw materials including iron ore, cooking coal or coke, limestone, dolomite scraps penultimate the available rail capability.
“Consequently there is a need for a comprehensive transportation program unveiled by the Federal Government that permits sustainable engagement of both the public and private sectors entities and more especially dredging of the River Niger and the improvement of the Inland Waterways transportation related capability.”
The Economist said now that the Federal Government has resolved Ajaokuta Steel’s quagmire, there was also need to resolved the debacle that has kept ALSCON in a cooler, which would be a plus to the much anticipated economic reconstruction of the present government in action.
He described steel as the bedrock of industrial growth of any nation, with links to production of consumer and capital goods to the extent of self-sufficiency, reducing pressure on foreign exchange, reduced poverty through the correspondent consequence on other sectors of the economy, as he commend the President for giving Nigerians and the economy a new lease of life.
“Contrary to the believe that our position on Dayson Holding/UC Russal botched deal over Aluminium Smelting Company of Nigeria, ALSCON’s privatization program was against the Russian business interests in Nigeria, to the same degree its economic policies.
“Accordingly, we seized this opportunity refuting such an insinuation as untrue and given the pervasive trend pervading the whole exercise, essentially bothering on the credibility issues and evidences available informed our objective ditto our present disposition.
“At the same time the Russians government has the right just like every other country to advance its business interest hand-in-hand genuine economic policies, and except contrary to the extant law of the country so as to be free from any inferences.
“Consequently, considering that the existing steel rolling plants in the country are facing hard time. Interestingly, we call on the government to extents financial incentives, especially tax break in the same position a financial lifeline to compensate for loss earnings due to the non-availability of inputs from Ajaokuta and NIOMCO.
“Also considering that these plants were specifically conceived to be depends on raw materials from mostly these to facilities, in the same degree, to upgrade its infrastructures and assets to complement the disposition of the government.”