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Sugar war: Dangote, Flour Mills file petition against BUA

Joseph Oyekanmi

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Sugar war: Dangote, Flour Mills file petition against BUA

Aliko Dangote, Chairman, Dangote Industries Limited and John Coumantaros, Chairman, Flour Mills of Nigeria Plc have jointly filed a petition against BUA International for recently setting up a new sugar refinery plant, saying it poses the country’s   National Sugar Master Plan (NSMP).

In a joint petition to the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Niyi Adebayo, dated January 28, 2021, they protested the recent commissioning of a sugar refinery in Port- Harcourt, Rivers State, which is reportedly owned by BUA International, one of the operators in the sugar industry and argued that the country currently had enough refining capacity to meet national demand.

Abdulsamad Rabiu, Chairman, BUA Group, however, claimed the recently commissioned sugar refinery in Port Harcourt does not in any way pose a threat to the country’s sugar policy.

He noted that it will, however, curb arbitrary price hike by the major players in the country’s sugar industry.

The Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment on Thursday confirmed the rancour among the operators to THISDAY Newspapers.

But he declined further comments on the matter which is already in court.

The minister said: “Unfortunately I’m unable to comment as the matter is already sub judice. Thank you very much for your understanding.”

However, in the letter to the minister, Dangote and his counterpart in Flour Millis, argued that they had in 2019, warned about the risk of establishing a new refinery, adding that they got assurances that in line with the federal government’s policy on Backward Integration Programme (BIP), “no new refinery will be allowed to operate in Nigeria”.

They also pointed out that a tremendous amount of work was required by all stakeholders to achieve the intended objective behind the sugar policy, which is to among other things, encourage backward integration to ultimately attain self-sufficiency in local sugar production.

The petitioners stated that with the new refinery, the country’s refining capacity had increased to 3.4 million metric tons per annum from 2.75 million metric tons per annum.

The petitioners further demanded a level-playing field that provides fair competition in the local sugar market in order for the country to realise the sugar master plan.

They specifically urged Adebayo, to prevail on the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to ensure that the provisions of the NSMP were enforced and that no additional allocation of quota should be given for raw, VHP, or refined sugar for the sugar refinery in Port Harcourt for local market production.

They also recommended that no allocations should be issued, or applications considered for quota intended for re-export of sugar as this would be difficult to monitor and may be open to abuse.

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