Usage Of Expired Materials, NAFDAC Fines Guinness N1bn
Unaware that regulatory agencies had been firmer with the enforcement of laws since President Muhammadu Buhari took over as president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Guinness Nigeria Plc may have gotten itself into trouble for allegedly re-validating expired raw materials without approval.
Accordingly, the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) has imposed a fine of N1 billion on Guinness for also maintaining poor documentation and not complying with some of its regulations.A letter written by the regulatory agency noted that the local unit of the company which had been operating in Nigeria since 1962 was given a two-week ultimatum to pay the fine. The Central Bank of Nigeria had imposed sanctions on at least three commercial banks for breaches in the last two months.
Just last month, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) imposed a hefty fine of $5.2bn on MTN, the largest telecommunication outfit in the country, for failing to deactivate 5.2 million unregistered SIM cards. But in its own case, Guinness denied flouting the rules of the regulatory agency, saying it was in talks with NAFDAC over the sanction. The company stated: “As a responsible corporate organisation, we take these allegations which relate primarily to raw materials stored in one of our raw materials stores very seriously. In a statement it issued yesterday, managing director of Guinness Nigeria Plc, Mr. Peter Ndegwa, further said, “We are engaging NAFDAC for clarifications and resolution of the issues. The high quality of products from Guinness Nigeria’s breweries has been attested to repeatedly, not only by NAFDAC but also by the Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON), as well as the internal quality controls of the Diageo Group.“Basic raw materials are first converted during the brewing stage, with lots of critical control points, before products are bottled and released to the market. Each of these painstaking steps is rigorously monitored for conformity with all necessary global standards which we regard as basic, as we always aspire to exceed the much higher standards that have been set internally by the Diageo Group”.Guinness wondered why NAFDAC took such punitive measure against it, saying its management was in the dark as to why neither the administrative charges nor the particular regulations alleged to have been infringed were computed in such manner.The letter further noted: “Guinness Nigeria is cognizant of its responsibility to adhere to relevant laws and regulations, which are applicable to its operations, including regulations issued by NAFDAC, and takes this obligation seriously.
“We remain committed to working with NAFDAC and other regulatory authorities in furtherance of our responsibility to produce and market quality products, which are enjoyed by consumers throughout Nigeria, and look forward to being able to resolve the issue, working in partnership with NAFDAC.”All efforts by Nigerian Notch on Friday to get clarifications from NAFDAC’s spokesman did not yield any positive results as he neither picked calls nor responded to a text sent to his phone by the time of going to press.