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OPEXA calls on FG to implement over N29bn budgetary allocations for EEG

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Organised Private Sector Exporters Association (OPEXA) has commended the Federal Government for making provision in its annual budget for Export Expansion Grant (EEG) but however decried the non-implementation for two years allocations amounting to N29.28 billion. 
OPEXA says diversification of the economy is a policy imperative and 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 was marred due to reluctance of Customs to forego the revenue and the government was forced to recall the huge backlog of unutilised NDCC’s (Negotiable Duty Credit Certificates) from exporters.
The certificates were issued to exporters in lieu of cash payment and could be used for payment of import duties. The export grant is meant to cushion the impact of infrastructural cost disadvantages faced by Nigerian exporters.
Executive secretary of OPEXA, Jaiyeola Paul Olarewajuin, made this known in a statement obtained by BusinessDay on Tuesday in Abuja.
Olarewajuin said making provision for EEG in the country’s annual budget  “creates transparency and boosts the confidence of non-oil investors in expanding processing capacity and employment generation.’’
He said an Inter-ministerial Monitoring Committee meeting was organised at the instance of the minister of finance, Zainab Ahmed, where the association expressed ‘deep’ concern over non-implementation of the EEG budget since 2017. 
He explained that the EEG budget allocation for 2017 was N16 billion, which was not implemented and it elapsed probably due to non-utilisation.
“In 2018, the budgetary allocation of N13.28 is yet to be implemented and we understand that less than N2 billion has been approved for disbursement by March 2019.
“Also 2019 budgetary allocation for EEG was surprisingly reduced to N5.12 billion, which appears arbitrary and inconsistent with government policy to grow non-oil exports,’’ he said in the statement.
The association also suggested the retrieval of unutilised 2017 budgetary allocation of N16 billion and mitigate the shortfall in the 2019 EEG budget through a supplementary provision.
“Annual budget allocation should be in the range of N60 billion but not less than the provision for 2017, in any case since exports are growing and we want the government to make a clear statement on future policy for EEG,’’ he said.
The OPEXA scribe therefore sought the urgent intervention of the Federal Government to approve the utilization of EEG budget for 2018 to enable the issuance of Export Tax Credit Certificate.
He stressed the importance of non-oil export to the country and quoted the CBN, which put the figure for 2016 as N675 billion and was increased to N1, 075 billion in 2017.
“This trend has continued in 2018 with export earnings for the fourth quarter of 2018 valued at $1.16 billion, representing a 85 percent increase over the corresponding quarter in 2017,’’ he said.
The association therefore urged the government to appreciate that the non-oil export sector that had been making a significant contribution to the diversification of revenue base, agro-allied linkages, rural employment and value addition to local raw materials.
According to him, non-oil exports suffer from neglect due to apathy displayed by the government’s policy implementation agencies.
“This erodes Nigeria’s credibility as an international trading partner,” he said.
 

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