The National Union of Food, Beverage and Tobacco Employees (NUFBTE) has warned of massive job loss in the sector over the Federal Government’s proposed increase on excise duty on carbonated drinks.

President of NUFBTE, Lateef Oyelekan, who stated this, said should the government go ahead with its plans, Nigerians would be the ones that would suffer the consequences as companies would have no choice than to lay off workers, reduce production lines or may even close down permanently.

He revealed that companies in the sector are already looking outside Nigeria for alternate production of their products even as they plan to move to a more favourable business climate within the West African region.

According to him, the union’s investigation revealed that more employers in the sector are conducting surveys on the probability of moving to Ghana and other countries in the region.

“Initially, Seven-Up had only one plant in Africa, which is Nigeria, but now it has another in Ghana. More of them now want to reduce their operations in Nigeria and move to Ghana.

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“Our government should not take it with levity because that is how Michelin, Dunlop and others moved to Ghana and still bring back their products to Nigeria to sell,” he lamented.

He said the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) would even make it worse as Nigeria would have no control over the products, noting that Nigerians could benefit better if her manufacturing companies are doing better.

While calling on the government to save their jobs and support the food sector to grow, he urged that the government should also create a conducive environment for companies to create more jobs for the citizens rather than overburden them with taxes.

He said: “The disadvantage of this is that it would increase the cost of production from the companies and this will be passed on to the consumers. It will invariably make the cost of these products go up and with the present inflation.”

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it means that many Nigerians will not be able to afford it.

“The soft drinks companies and breweries are the ones providing jobs for Nigerians and with their planned expansions, that means more jobs for Nigerians.”