The Organised Private Sector Exporters Association (OPEXA) has decried the non-implementation of budgetary allocations amounting to N29.28 billion meant for Export Expansion Grant (EEG) in 2017 and 2018.
Its Executive Secretary, Jaiyeola Paul Olarewaju, in a statement yesterday in Abuja, said that making provision for EEG in the country’s yearly budget would create transparency and confidence of non-oil investors.
Olarewaju said that an inter-ministerial monitoring committee meeting held with Minister of Finance, Hajia Zainab Ahmed, they expressed deep concern over non-implementation of the EEG budget since 2017.
The Chief Executive Officer, Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC), Olusegun Awolowo, had last week stated that the government was now set to clear the EEG arrears to exporters from 2007 to 2016.
He said the reactivation of the EEG scheme, after its technical suspension in 2014 and settlement of the outstanding claims owed exporters, was in line with the Federal Government’s focus on diversification of the economy through non-oil exports.
He said, “The assent in January 2019 by the National Assembly of the first batch of the request and the subsequent directives by the Minister of Finance to the Debt Management Office for the settlement of the EEG covering backlogs of ten years for 270 companies with a total value of N195.08bn will bring succour to the export sector.
“We also have a positive signal that the National Assembly will soon pass the second batch of the approval for the remaining 39 companies with a total value of about N126bn only”.
According to the statement by OPEXA, diversification of the economy was a policy imperative and the government should be commended for reviving the moribund EEG scheme.
He further 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,’’ the statement added.
The association also suggested the retrieval of un-utilised 2017 budgetary allocation of N16 billion and mitigates 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,’’ Olarewaju 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 dollars, representing a 85 per cent increase over the corresponding quarter in 2017,’’ he said.