The Organised Private Sector Exporters Association has appealed to the National Assembly to urgently ratify the approval of the N375bn by the Federal Government on the backlog of the Export Expansion Grants for exporters.
The N375bn is the backlog of the EEG from 2017 to 2020, whose payment was delayed due to budgetary constraints by the Federal Government. The Federal Executive Council recently approved the disbursement of the money to exporters in the form of promissory notes, which would become effective after the ratification by NASS.
The Executive Secretary of OPEXA, Mr. Jaiyeola Olanrewaju, in a statement, said, “We sincerely appreciate the gesture shown by Mr President and the Vice President to support the non-oil export sector and the intervention of both the Ministers of Finance and Industry, Trade and Investment respectively, who tabled the issue of the EEG backlog at the cabinet. We now appeal to both the houses of the National Assembly to expedite the ratification of the approval given by the FEC to provide relief to the exporters who have been starved of liquidity. This appeal becomes more urgent in view of the fact that the ratification by the National Assembly will be the beginning of another long process, spanning through the Debt Management Office (DMO), International Auditors (Peat Marwick) and the NEPC. No doubt, this process takes a while.’’
Olanrewaju said the Presidential Committee on Continuous Audit (PICA) had earlier carried out a validation exercise on the claims, including physical inspection of the facilities of beneficiary companies.
He noted that it was the report by PICA that the Ministry of Finance presented in the form of a memo to the Federal Executive Council (FEC) for approval.
“A timely disbursement will help millions of Nigerian farmers who rely on the export sector for funds through the planting and harvest season for 2022,” he said. OPEXA noted that reform of the EEG policy was commendable, stressing that what was needed now was its actual implementation.
According to a knowledge paper prepared by the industry think-tank OPEXA, the sector has agro-allied linkages and supports the livelihood of over 11 million Nigerians directly and indirectly and is vital for diversification of Nigerian economy and revenue base.
“The government needs to engender confidence in its policies. Diversification of the economy is a policy imperative. The government should be commended for reviving the moribund EEG scheme. In 2017, the scheme was revamped to improve its effectiveness and ensure sustainability. The older version of the scheme suffered pitfalls and the government was forced to recall the huge backlog of unutilised NDCC (Negotiable Duty Credit Certificates) from exporters relating to the backlog for the ten-year period from 2007 to 2016. After a lengthy revalidation exercise, the Senate and House of Representatives approved the conversion of this ‘debt’ into promissory notes worth N 350 billion in 2018. However, due to budgetary constraints, there has been another backlog of N375billon between 2017 and 2020.’’