By Paul Ibe
The Federal Government may have banned fresh investments in the tobacco and allied industry. Smoking and the pervasive use of tobacco products is a risk factor for several diseases and has been increasing in many developing countries. In 2000, 4·83 million of premature deaths in the world were attributable to smoking with 2·41 million occuring in developing countries and 2·43 million in industrialised countries.
Executive Secretary and CEO of the Nigerian Investment Promotion Commission (NIPC), Mustafa Bello, made this disclosure at the just concluded 2nd Nigeria-Japan Business and Investment Forum, which took place in the cities of Osaka and Tokyo. Bello, had in response to an inquiry from a prospective Japanese investor, said that the Federal Government in line with global efforts at stemming the use of tobacco products and isolating manufacturers of the product may not be well disposed to fresh investments in that sector.
He said that it is only the Federal Executive Council (FEC) that can review this policy and make exceptions if a case is brought to its attention.
"Right now, the Nigerian government working in line with global efforts at discouraging the use of cigarettes and tobacco related products, would not be willing to entertain any fresh investments in the tobacco industry sub-sector," he said.The NIPC Executive Secretary urged the investor and others engaged in doing business in this sector to consider investments in other sectors of the Nigerian economy.
He said that Nigeria is a preferred investment destination because of the current administration's commitment to the rule of law, empowerment of the private sector, commitment to creating enabling business environment and its low external debt estimated as at February this year to be $3.5 billion.