OPEXA wants release of N195m accumulated export expansion plan claim

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*Olanrewaju

Ime Akpan

Non-oil exporters under the umbrella of the Organised Private Sector Exporters Association (OPEXA) called on the on the federal government to release the N195 million 2007-2016 accumulated Export Expansion Grant (EEG).

In a letter dated April 10 and signed by the executive secretary of OPEXA, Mr. Jaiyeola Olanrewaju and directed to President Muhammadu Buhari, the association pointed out that the federal government had earlier approved promissory notes programme in 2017 at its federal executive council meeting and forwarded to the national assembly for approval in 2018.

According to the association, the national assembly had also conveyed its approval for payment of N195 billion claims in January 2019.

“We, the exporters have been waiting anxiously, since the approval from national assembly for the promissory notes to be issued.

“It was only on 4th April 2019, almost 70 days after the approval from the national assembly that the Debt Management Office (DMO) called the exporters to brief us on the implementation of PN program,” the letter stated.

The association condemned the sudden move by the debt management office (DMO) to issue the approved promissory notes through a Reverse Auction Process.

Even at that, OPEXA said the DMO had not been forthcoming with any further details about the mechanism of reverse auction process.

Consequently, the association made a three-point demand on the issue.

Firstly, it wants the government to reconsider the reverse auction process for issuance of the promissory notes.

Secondly, it demand that the government, including the DMO to restrict themselves to issuing the promissory notes as the shortest term feasible for payment, while equal treatment should be meted to all beneficiaries of all categories of promissory notes.

Lastly, OPEXA demands that exporters should be issued promissory notes with the shortest tenure (spread evenly over a maximum period of three years) bearing in mind that payment had been delayed for a period of three to 12 years for members’ claims.

The association declared that members were becoming unsettled in their businesses more than ever and unable to carry out their vital roles.

The association said government’s inaction was causing challenges to their members.

One of such major challenges it stated, the accumulated interests on loans which OPEXA said has made their investment and pricing decisions in their businesses difficult.

“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,” the letter added.

Though it is believed that the current government had shown clear intention to take the country out of the perennial dependence on oil revenue by getting other sectors up and working, OPEXA said the inability of the government to meet up with the promissory notes for non-oil exporters for dues owed them for over nine years may undermine the successes recorded so far by the policy.

“Before now, the previous administration 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,” said OPEXA.

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