After several years of carryovers, President Muhammmadu Buhari has approved payments of backlog of N350b export expansion grants to exporters
The Executive Director of the Nigerian Export Promotion Council, Segun Awolowo disclosed this weekend, saying that the backlog will be paid to exporters through the Debt Management Office, DMO
With the approvals, exporters will now receive their certificates which they can use to cover loans, debts, pay AMCORN and pay taxes as well.
Awolowo who expressed gratitudes to President Buhari for the gesture, said the sum of N190 billion has been appropriated in the 2019 budget and approved by the National Assembly for payment.
“The President promised to give continuous support for this export. I thank him that we have paid the backlogs on the export expansion grant, that is an incentive that we give to exporters. We owed them for several years but we have reversed the whole system and the president approved to pay the backlog of N350 billion to pay them”
“The National Assembly has appropriated and approved N190 billion out of it so far and we are paying it through the Debt Management Office (DMO).
“We are about to enter into African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Agreement, which is the biggest in the world, we don’t want to be a dumping ground and that is why Mr. President refused signing until we are ready. We must be competitive, we must produce more, and we must help our manufacturers get into this market.”
Against the backdrop of poor revenue from oil, Nigeria put in place , a zero oil plan, in line with the growth recovery plan, to drive an export revolution to move foreign earning from $5b to $30b exploring the nation’s comparative advantage of agricultural products.
The zero oil plan aims at earning at least $30 billion from non-oil sources in the near to medium term as against the current earnings of about $5 billion
Awolowo said Nigeria has identified 22 sectors where the country can earn foreign exchange apart from oil.
“We are hoping that in the next 10-15 years we will be able to raise $150 billion from sources outside oil. That is what we are working on and we are galvanizing the whole states behind us in other to raise production and productivity. We are working with the relevant MDAs to achieve this.
“You know the CBN just announced an initiative on five of our products and giving them low interest rates to farm and raise production.
Nigeria is leveraging on exports from Cocoa as an immediate win, being Nigeria’s number one none oil revenue raking exports commodity.
But according to him Nigeria’s 300,000 metric tons, is far behind Ghana’s 900,000, metric tons, even as Cote d’ Ivoire is now heading towards two million metric.
“So, how do we compete? Meanwhile if you see the landmass in Nigeria you can imagine what we can do.
“Another sector is sheer nut, cashew is another breadwinner for us, so let’s raise production, let’s give our farmers, plantations low interest loan so that they can raise production for us.
“We are also looking at value addition for all because that is the way you create jobs, we cannot continue to sell the raw materials.
“We presented to Mr. President, some tomatoes and Bell peppers from a green house in Benin, I also presented him Casanovas, which is cassava chips which a cottage industry is producing in Idu Industrial Estate, that is already being exported to Germany.
Speaking further on the challenges of packaging and substandard products, Awolowo said products from Nigeria are “ no longer substandard”
“Our products are no longer substandard and we are exporting all over West Africa and Inter-land Africa.
“We have a few challenges here and there but I always tell people, the journey of processing raw materials to producing goods is not going to happen over night. We are going to have rejects but we will not succumb to them.
“Our packaging is improving and we are even packaging and labeling in different languages so we can get into those markets, particularly when Africa opens up for us now. For instance, you know we use to send our goods to west African countries but you know we are surrounded by francophone countries and we don’t even label our products in French but now we are not even doing that.
“To avoid wastage, we don’t have wastage with cashew because we are moving them through the ports and you are aware government has declared a state of emergency on Apapa Port.
“But in storage we are looking at aggregation centers and it is part of the zero oil plan. The Nigerian Export Promotion Council have put two giant aggregators in place so that we can process in those. Processing is very important for us, if we are able to do that we will be exporting all those things.” he said.
Tony Ailemen, Abuja