With an outstanding debt of N109 billion under the suspended Export Expansion Grant (EEG) scheme, non-oil exporters have kicked against the N300 billion special intervention fund recently unveiled by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), describing the action as improper for the Federal Government to propose loans when it still owes them.
The CBN had, in a communiqué on January 19, announced N300 billion export stimulation fund, which would be available for non-oil exporters at not more than nine per cent interest rate.
The announcement was contained in a communiqué issued at the end of a non-oil export conference held by the CBN and the Nigerian Export-Import Bank.
While acknowledging the efforts of the federal government in reviving activities in the sector, the exporters noted that government already has a policy instrument directed at growing the nation’s non -oil revenues.
“We are happy that the government recognises the importance of the non-oil exports sector to the Nigerian economy, at this time of a general worldwide recession and a collapse in the oil prices to ten-year lows of prices below $30 per barrel,” said Chief Executive Officer of Sapele Integrated Industries Limited, Chief Ede Dafinone.
“But there is already a Federal Government policy instrument called the Export Expansion Grant (EEG). We have the Negotiable Duty Credit Certificates (NDCCs), which are government instruments used to pay the export grant and can be redeemed only by the payment of customs duties. The federal government today owes us an estimated $109 billion in NDCC’s issued and not yet redeemed, as well as a further estimated N123.5 billion in EEG claims for 2014 and 2015.
“The question on the lips of exporters, therefore, is: If the federal government is owing us N109 billion with a further potential debt of N123.5 billion, why is this available fund not directed firstly at settling the outstanding government liabilities?” Dafinone queried.
According to the exporters, where the Ministry of Finance and the CBN are unable to work together to grow the non -oil sector, the CBN should accept NDCCs as security for the loans given under the special intervention fund, stressing that this would give them some relief as other collaterals would be freed up and further expansion guaranteed.
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