The Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC) says it is working with relevant ministries departments and agencies for payment of N124 billion backlog of claims under the Export Expansion Grant (EEG) scheme.
Mr Lawal Dalhat, the Deputy Director, Incentives, NEPC made this known on Sunday in an interview with newsmen in Abuja.
EEG scheme was established through the Miscellaneous and Export Incentive Act of 1986 as one of the Federal Government’s programmes aimed at increasing volume and competitiveness of Nigeria non-oil exports through incentives granted to exporters.
While reacting to the agitation by some non-oil exporters and manufacturers on the backlog of claims, Dalhat said EEG claims between 2007 and 2016 had been cleared, adding however that the backlog from 2017 till date were being reviewed under the scheme.
He said that 1,415 exporting companies were shortlisted, 308 companies were qualified, while 270 were approved by National Assembly with N195 billion claims.
According to him, the remaining 38 companies out of the 308 companies have N124 billion.
“We have gotten positive response that the Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning is actually working to secure approval by Federal Executive Council (FEC) and hopefully move it to National Assembly to settle debts for the remaining companies,” he said.
He said that with the review of the scheme, the claims were captured under the national debt programme where promissory notes were being issued and approval was given by FEC covering the debts of 1,415 exporting companies valued at about N350 billion.
He said that out of the total debts captured in the national debt programme, exporters’ N350 billion claims approval was given by FEC and communicated to the National Assembly as a statutory requirement.
He said out of the exporting companies, 308 companies were qualified, while 1,107 companies were dropped because they did not meet the requirements to be incorporated in the national debt programme.
“The National Assembly had its processes along the way, out of the qualified 308 companies, a substantial number of the exporters, more than 270 companies covering a debt of about N195 billion were approved and passed by the assembly.
“The balance of N124 billion was remaining for 38 companies that were not cleared by the 8th National Assembly as at that time and the 9th assembly came in.
“So it required that they have to be cleared by the National Assembly and the procedure is that another new submission has to be made by FEC for others to be captured and sent to Debt Management Office (DMO),” he said.
He noted however that those approved by the National Assembly went through necessary processes at the DMO and had been paid in three batches through the promissory note programme.
“At the level of the council, we carried out several advocacies and had also approached and reminded the Federal Ministry of Trade and Investments of those companies that have not been passed by the National Assembly.
“We are proposing to the ministry, the possibility of still capturing the backlog of debts under the DMO to be settled with promissory note because the budgetary provisions are inadequate to settle all the exporters’ claims for this period,” he said.
Newsmen report that the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria Export Promotion Group (MANEG) and the Africa International Trade and Commerce Research Limited (AITCRL) had expressed dissatisfaction with the backlog of debts under the scheme.
Chief Ede Dafinone, the Chairman, MANEG said the delay in the payment of the grant and the reduced payments, in real and absolute terms resulted in exporters eventually recording losses for transactions.
“Thus there is a direct impact on the profitability of these exporting companies and as companies are discouraged from export, non-oil export revenues for the country have declined.
“This is borne out of the figures from the Nigeria Bureau of Statistics which shows a decline in non-oil export revenues for the period of 2014 to 2017, when the EEG scheme was put on hold,” he said.
Dafinone said that the unpaid claims affected exporters and manufacturers adversely, adding that those who had taken loans to expand their businesses in anticipation of the grant had in some cases folded up.