The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) on Friday announced the approval of the official permit to three sugar refining companies in the country to import the commodity into the country.
In a public statement published on Friday on its website, the apex bank named the three companies s BUA Sugar Refinery Limited, Dangote Sugar Refinery Plc, and Golden Sugar Company.
The statement signed by the Director of Trade & Exchange Department of the CBN, O. S. Nnaji, said the approval of the import license which is in line with the Federal Government National Sugar Master Plan to encourage and incentivize sugar refining companies in their backward integration programme for local sugar production followed a review of the three companies’ achievement of reasonable progress on the policy in the sector.
The notice titled, ‘Sugar Importation in Nigeria’ and addressed to all authorized dealers and the general public, said only the trio shall be allowed to import sugar into the country.
Consequently, the CBN said all authorized dealers shall not open Form M or access foreign exchange in the Nigerian foreign exchange market for any company, including the three companies, for the importation of sugar into the country without prior and express approval from it.
Under the Nigerian Sugar Master Plan by the Federal Government through the National Sugar Development Council, the CBN is mandated to monitor the implementation of the backward integration programmes of all the companies.
Last April, the three companies ignited what analysts called a major ‘sugar war’ in the country when two of them (Dangote Sugar and Flour Mills) formed an alliance to demand from the Federal Government the immediate closure of BUA Sugar’s new $250 million sugar refinery complex in Port Harcourt over alleged operational infractions.
Close followers of developments in the sector said the development was a direct fallout of the bitter rivalry between the three sugar manufacturing giants who have been jostling to gain the controlling dominance of the country’s sugar market.
Last January, Dangote Sugar and Flour Mills PLC sent a joint petition to the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Niyi Adebayo, accusing BUA Group of engaging in activities that contravened the National Sugar Master Plan (NSMP) designed to promote backward integration in the nation’s sugar industry.
The Chairman of Dangote Group, Aliko Dangote, and his counterpart in Flour Mills, John Coumantarous, in the petition, alleged BUA was operating without regard to the provisions of the law, by commissioning the new sugar refinery located in the Export Processing Zone in Port Harcourt with a view to selling its products locally instead of producing for export in contravention of the National sugar policy.
With BUA’s new plant, Dangote and Flour Mills said the company contravened the agreement by all interest groups in the sector in 2019 against the operation of new refineries in the country till further notice.
Consequently, they said BUA’s new refinery illegally raised Nigeria’s combined sugar refining capacity from 2.75 million metric tons per annum to 3.4 million metric tons, or from 170 percent in excess of last year’s capacity to over 210 percent capacity.