By Oscarline Onwuemenyi
The Federal Government has directed the Nigeria Export Promotion Council (NEPC) to release the outstanding Export Expansion Grant (EEG) certificates for 2007 amounting to N21,580,405,000 to the beneficiaries (exporters).
This directive on the release of certificates, which was given by the Minister of State for Finance, Mr. Remi Babalola, in December 2009 to NEPC, is based on the Audit Report of the EEG Scheme carried out by a reputable firm of auditors, PriceWaterHouseCoopers.
The directive is a major effort by the Federal Government to step up the operations of the Export Expansion Grant Scheme, towards the realisation of its key objective of stimulating export-oriented activities that would lead to the growth of the non-oil export sector in Nigeria
The beneficiaries are expected this week to receive their EEG certificates from NEP C. Babalola, who is the Chairman of the Inter-Ministerial Committee of the EEG Scheme, however, warned that the Federal Government would henceforth no longer tolerate inappropriate and frivolous claims by exporters. He disclosed that the government would not hesitate to handover fraudulent claimants to the appropriate law-enforcement and anti-graft agencies, in line with the Administrationâ€™s avowed commitment to transparency and zero tolerance to corruption.
The minister noted that the EEG scheme would upscale the contributions by the non_oil sector into the national coffers. â€œThe Federal Government believes that with this bold initiative to give vitality to the Scheme, it will not be long before the non-oil sector begins to gain ascendancy in contributing foreign exchange into the national coffers.
â€œThis is in line with governmentâ€™s avowed policy of diversification of the national earning base. All stakeholders have to support this Scheme fully, towards making our nation a force to be reckoned with in the world,â€ he said.
The EEG was one of the novel export incentives introduced by the Federal Government through the Export (Incentives and Miscellaneous Provisions) Act of 1986 as amended by the Export (Incentives and Miscellaneous Provisions) Act of 1992.
The objective of the audit exercise was to arrest observed irregularities in the Scheme, such as non-provision of appropriate records to back up claims, poor documentation, and lateness in remitting export proceeds, among others. The Report of the Audit exercise formed the basis of the release of the Grant Certificates to genuine claimants.
The Scheme has gone through some transformations since inception, towards enhancing its capability to contribute significantly to the development of non-oil exports in Nigeria .
To benefit from the Scheme, exporters are required to register with the Nigeria Export Promotions Council after meeting certain criteria. These criteria include export growth, investment growth, local content, value addition, employment generation and priority sector.
Thereafter, exporters are entitled to make claims based on the value of export proceeds they receive and duly certified by the Central Bank of Nigeria .
The approved claims are paid to exporters by Government through the use of a negotiable instrument known as the Negotiable Duty Credit Certificate (NDCC). The NDCC entitles the exporter to offset part or whole of subsequent Customs and Excise duties payable to the Federal Government of Nigeria.