Non-oil export revenue plunges to $391m

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The Nigeria Export Promotion Council (NEPC) has painted a gloomy picture of the revenue accruable from the non-oil sector, with the earning dropping from $652 million to $391 million within the last four months of 2015.
The slide represents a 39.25 per cent loss in the second quarter of 2015.
NEPC Executive Secretary, Olusegun Awolowo, who disclosed this on Monday in Abuja during a meeting with the new Comptroller General of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Col. Hameed Ali (rtd), attributed the dip to insurgence in the North East and suspension of the Export Expansion Grant (EEG).
He said the unrest in the northern part of the country, where the bulk of farming takes place, had taken a toll on the capacity of the nation’s agricultural production.
According to him, the nation is not only losing on economic front; the lull in non-oil export is also affecting the capacity of the manufacturing sector to employ, lamenting that within the four months, the nation has lost 50 per cent of its labour force.
“The country has witnessed a dip of 60 per cent in oil revenue. For any country across the world, it is huge. Under this circumstance, what could have ordinarily been the next thing is to push our non-oil export. However, the challenges we are having in the oil sector are also affecting the value of our non-oil export.
“The situation is compounded with the non-payment of the EEG and the insurgence in the North East, which is the agricultural basket of the nation,” he said.
On the efforts of government to put a stop to the incessant rejection of the nation’s export products, the NEPC boss noted that an inter-agency committee was working round the clock to ensure zero rejection by 2016.
Awolowo, however, explained that an inquiry into the causes of the products’ rejection revealed that most exporters ran foul of documentation rules even as he alleged that they employed the services of fraudulent clearing and forwarding agents.
“In a bid to unearth the reasons behind the rejection of our export products in Europe, we  went to London with seven agencies of government. We visited the largest port where Nigeria and other West African countries’ goods pass through.
“To our utter disgust and amazement, many of the rejects were based on improper documentation. They route some of the goods through fraudulent clearing  and forwarding agents. We have to work with the Customs Service to address these. When we have export portal, people can track their exports as is being done to import,”he explained.
Responding, the Customs boss, Ali, promised to partner with NEPC to address some of the issues raised with a view to removing all impediments to export trade.
On the status of EEG, he noted that the ministerial committee set up by the past administration to review it would submit its findings to President Muhammadu Buhari for necessary action as soon as the ministers set to work.
Recall that the EEG, which was meant to boost exports was reported to have been seriously abused leading to its suspension by the past administration.