It seems most Nigerian exporters are not happy with Nigeria’s Debt Management Office. The reason- How the Export Expansion Grant (EEG) is managed. Most Nigerians can recall that almost all her governments have paid lip service to the need for economic diversification and growth of non-oil export.
However, the present government in Nigeria under President Mohammed Buhari, after the last economic recession, seemed to have realized that it will be very hard for the Nigerian economy to grow without doing something dramatic about growing non-oil exports.
So the President decided to revive The Export Expansion Grant (EEG). Every stakeholder has come to agree that its implementation will boost non-oil exports and Nigeria’s economy. The Export Expansion grant was created specifically to help cushion those disadvantages experienced by Nigerian exporters from a cost perspective due to anomalies in the areas of infrastructure, Power, and monetary/ fiscal distortions.
Regrettably, the implementation of policies on this grant by various government agencies especially the Debt Management office (DMO) has left most exporters totally ruffled.
Steps to access the grant are not only slow; policies around it are hazy and nebulous. All stakeholders agree that the Nigerian presidency must intervene to set things right. The DMO that operates directly with the exporters in this matter has said that it will make disbursement on the principle of what is designated as Reverse Auction Process (RAP), which implies that only exporters who will accept discounted rates will become beneficiaries. Even at that, the DMO is not giving the money to all eligible exporters.
Stakeholders feel the President must hear this. This is obviously not acceptable to exporters and they are not lying low. Virtually all key local business bodies are also lining up behind them.
Under a banner called Organized Private Sector Exporters Association (OPSEA) they have sent a strong Save-Our-Souls letter to President Buhari that exporters are becoming very unsettled in their businesses more than ever and unable to carry out their vital roles.
They are lamenting that the accumulated EEG not paid over the years is biting hard on the export activities of its members. The development, has led to the accumulation of billions of Naira owed exporters between 2007 and 2016.
Consequently, the association is making a three point request on the issue, which are as follows: The Reverse Auction Process (RAP) for issuance of Promissory Notes (PNs) should be reconsidered by the government; the second is that the government (including the Debt Management Office, DMO) should restrict themselves to issuing the PNs as the shortest term feasible for payment, while equal treatment should be meted to all beneficiaries of all categories of PN.
Thirdly, the exporters should be issued PNs with shortest tenure (spread evenly over a maximum period of three years) bearing in mind that payment has been delayed for a period of three to 12 years for member’s claims.
OPSEA recounted that before now, previous administrations had commenced the issuance of EEG to genuine exporters but the grant was later suspended in 2007 due to duplicitous claims and counter-claims by stakeholders over who and who should indeed benefit from the package.
The exporters say government’s inaction is causing mounting challenges to their members. One of such major challenges is the accumulating interests on loans. “We have taken up debts to service the receivables and these debts are incurring further interests with the continuing delay in the payment of EEG claims’, they explain.
OPSEA members play vital role in economic diversification through their contribution in generating the much needed foreign exchange earnings through export and creating numerous job opportunities via their operations throughout the country.
It could be equally recalled that diversification of the economy is one of the main policy initiatives of the Buhari administration that is aimed at shifting the nation’s economy from oil-based to non-oil sectors.
The Federal Executive Council (FEC) in one of its weekly meetings gave approval for the payment of the EEG Promissory Notes. It was equally gathered that the EEG claims by the non-oil exporters have been processed and prepared by the federal government implementation committee with members drawn from the Federal Ministry of Finance, Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment, Central Bank of Nigeria, Nigeria Customs Service, Federal Ministry of Budget and Planning, Federal Inland Revenue Service as well as Nigeria Export Promotion Council.
Even the N350 billion EEG claim is said to have been audited by officials of Presidential Initiative on Continuous Audit (PICA) since last year but exporters are bewildered that even with all the said inputs on the matter, nothing positive is yet to come their way in terms of payment.
Stakeholders strongly advice that the federal government should carry private sector players along if they want to realize their economic diversification agenda.
They believe that faithful implementation of the EEG policy is the needed elixir to help track performance in the non-oil sector and accelerate the rate of industrial growth in the country.