BY UDEME CLEMENT
The Federal Government should simplify the methodology for the disbursement of N21.5billion export grant, recently approved for immediate release, to ensure that beneficiaries get sufficient funds to inject into the non-oil export sector of theÂ economy.
The former chairman, Agriculture, Non-oil Export Trade Group, Lagos Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (LACCIMA), Dr. Godwin Oyedele Oyediji, saidÂ the directive from the Minister of State for Finance, Mr. Remi Babalola, instructing Nigeria Export Promotion Council (NEPC) to release the outstanding N21.58 billion subvention under the Export Expansion Grant (EEG) scheme for the beneficiaries was a good initiative and would propel rapid growth in the non-oil sector.
He told Sunday Vanguard, â€œGovernmentÂ must design a transparent framework for immediate and appropriate disbursement of the funds only to the target beneficiaries to ensure that the money does not get into wrong hands, and at the end of the exercise, the real beneficiaries are frustrated with nothing to invest in the sector. Government must also realise that the intended purpose of releasing the grant could only be achieved if the right people get the money and put it back into the economy through investments in the export sub-sector.
â€œExport is a major economic activity that is capable of crediting Nigeria â€™s balance of payment accounts to generate more revenue for the entire economy, and reposition the economy strategically to enable government achieve its Vision 20: 2020 without any set back.
â€œNigeria as a country stands to benefit a lot from non-oil export sector because it would increase the rate of foreign exchange coming into the country. Also, it would expand marketing strategy for the country and paves way for locally manufactured goods to be known in the international market, thereby promoting economic growth and development at a larger scale. For example, shrimp fishing is a serious export business that Nigerian farmers ought to be involved in because Indians are really into the business and they are making tangible returns to their investments.
â€œFor Nigeria to make much impact in the area of non-oil export, there is need to educate local farmers to comply fully with the Sanitary-Phyto-Sanitary (SPS) policy of World Trade Organisation (WTO), which is a prerequisite for trade in agricultural products.
The guideline specifies that products being exported from all countries must meet a certain level of standard for them to be accepted internationally. Some developed nations that are smart in international trade are using SPS policy as a technical barrier against other countries. So, Nigeria must strengthen its SPS infrastructures to trade in the international markets.
There is also the need to extend advocacy on agriculture at all tiers of government, letting government realise that the agricultural sector ought to be made viable for greater productivityâ€.
Sunday Vanguard gathered that the ministerâ€™s directive on the release of certificates, which was given in December 2009 to NEPC, was based on the audit report of the EEG carried out by PriceWaterHouseCoopers. The initiative was to step up the operations of EEG in the country. The last administration projected that domestic fish production in the country would hit two billion tonnes in 2010, thereby making Nigeria a leading exporter of fish and fishery products in Africa .
In that capacity, Nigeria would turn from a net importer to a net exporter of fish. Fish exports from Africa playÂ a major role in economic growth, development and diversification, which are estimated at over $2.7billion annually whileÂ fish products worth $700million are imported each year. Thus, the release of the export grant would encourage Public Private Sector Partnership (PPP)Â for accelerated agenda in intensive capacity building, manpower development programme and integration of aqua-culture development in the country.