By Abolaji Adebayo, Deputy Editor, AAA
The operators in the Nigerian real sector have urged the National Assembly to urgently approve the fund proposed by the Presidency to offset bills incurred under the Export Expansion Grant (EEG) scheme.
This, they said, is important as not to hamstring the entrepreneurs who have already incurred huge expenses in respect of the scheme, which is managed by the Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC).
The Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer, Nigerian Export Promotion Council, Mr. Segun Awolowo, had put the money at over N1trilion, representing accumulated payments for years 2016 and 2017, adding that payment is expected to commence as soon as the National Assembly reconvenes and gives its approval.
“The government has done all that is necessary for the take-off of this programme. Right now, we are waiting for the National Assembly to reconvene and then they will grant approval for that promissory note programme.”
Reacting to the development, Mrs. Mojisola Adenekan, a medium enterprise owner, and an exporter of processed nuts and oil, noted that a prompt approval of the money would enable Nigerian entrepreneurs consolidate on their business plans, saying that this could be very costly some times.
She cited the fact that the payments being expected now by exporters were in lieu of previous year’s deals, observing that this would have cost much to execute.
She said, “Usually, you are expected to pick orders from different locations, which you spend so much money to execute. And when you do not get the returns on your investments immediately, your business could be grounded.
“Sometimes, it is not easy to get bank credit. And when you do, it is on high interest rate. Besides, the total money required by the export business is huge. If you do not get reimbursement fast, your business could be grounded”, she said urging for quick response by the concerned authorities.
She however expressed optimism that the members of the assembly would do justice by promptly approving the payment as a way of triggering increased activity in the export sector.”
Godwin Odhiare, General Manager of Stagenta, a textiles and garments processing company also said that the Buhari administration needed commendation for initiatives targeted at boosting exports, but added that the members of the legislature should complement this gesture by quickening the process of releasing the money.
“Anyone who is genuinely interested in the Nigerian export business would appreciate the administration for the initiative. It was suspended, but he revived it, which is very okay, but as far as I am concerned, it does not end there. What would gladden the hearts the more is to see that the proposal has been endorsed by the Assembly and the monies paid. You know, there is a proverb that he who wears the shoes knows where it pinches. It is those who spend money in exportation that would understand the burden of not being settled on time”. There is need to ensure that noble initiatives involving our export sector are implemented to the latter”.
According to Odhiare, many of them who have been nursing the idea of expanding their operations are being held back by the outstanding payments since according to him, the monies involved is huge.
“The export market is competitive. Many of us are proud to be flying the nation’s flag in that area and we would appreciate every assistance that the authorities could give”.
Earlier, the Chairman, MAN Export Group, Chief Ede Dafinone, had passionately appreciated the Federal Government for reviving the EEG, especially with the expansion of the use of the Export Credit Certificate ( ECC).
“As a result of this expansion, our members will be able to transfer the ECC to a third party and use it to settle all Federal Government taxes as well as purchase of government bonds and settlement of credit facilities by development banks and liabilities of the Asset Management Company of Nigeria.”
Dafinone admitted that 2017 was tough for members of the group due to shortage of foreign exchange, high cost of energy and funds, multiple levies and taxes, smuggling that unleashed untold constraints on manufacturing operations.
“Also, since the collection of the unutilized Negotiable Duty Certificates by the Federal Government, no payment has been made which put our members in a difficult position with their banks. I hope government will commence full payment of the new EEG soon,” he stated.
Mazi Jerry Ugwu, a leather works merchant said for once, he saw something to admire the administration for, but warned against politicizing it.
“I would appeal to the members of the assembly, not to look at this particular issue from the point of view of politics. Hunger does not know politics. If the economy is good, individuals from all political sides would benefit. So the house should drop politics, in fact, it should expedite action and have this money released”:.
Ugwu added that issues concerning the economy of the country, especially those ones capable of creating jobs should always be considered with priority, in the interest of the larger Nigerian society.
“You can imagine what would happen when such an amount is released. It would be ploughed back into the economy and the impact can better be imagined”, he said.
He equally appealed on the exporters not to relent but continue to do their beat, which is helping to create awareness about the ability of Nigerian businessmen to do well internationally.
“For me, entrepreneurs who are involved in selling Nigerian products are ambassadors. They should be supported in whatever way possible. Apart from that, they are wealth creators too. They produce, pay tax locally, and also pay tax internationally. They bring a lot of ideas from what is happening internationally. In fact, they are doing a great job and government needs to back them up”, he said.