From Aidoghie Paulinus, Abuja
The federal government launched on Monday the Export Expansion Facility Programme (EEFP) and an online Grant Management Portal, promising to secure, create jobs and support resilience to shore up foreign exchange in the country.
The Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Niyi Adebayo, said during the launch that the move was necessitated by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The EFFP, he said, is a N50 billion intervention to support export businesses, cushion the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, safeguard jobs and de-risk the economy from shocks for non-oil export sector.
The former Ekiti governor said if there was one lesson the country has learnt from the COVID 19 pandemic, it is resilience.
He added that in a time of pandemic, nothing defines a nation more than how its leaders and people rise to the crises that manifest, often without warning, and must be confronted one way or another.
‘I have stressed before and maintain that export growth is at the centre of the Ministry of Industry Trade and Investment’s strategy for diversifying Nigeria’s sources of foreign exchange and reducing the vulnerability of the economy to external shocks. We have witnessed time and again, the devastating impact that events outside our control can have on our livelihoods due to our reliance on a primary source of foreign exchange,’ the minister said.
‘The primary goal of the Export Expansion Facility is to increase Nigeria’s export capacity in the near term and its export volumes in the medium term. It will also provide economic incentives to ease the economic effects of COVID-19 on players in the export sector, fast-track the zero oil plan to create jobs and further expand other avenues to earn foreign exchange in Nigeria other than crude oil. Essentially, the EEFP will save jobs and create jobs,’ Adebayo said.
The minister said EEFP has also triggered the launch of the Export Development Fund (EDF) according to Act CAP E19 law of the Federation, 2004.
‘The EEFP Grant Management Portal will be for exporters to register for grants under the facility it will allow for efficiency, transparency, information and real time reporting among others.
‘The ultimate aim of the Export Expansion Facility Programme as an intervention following the devastating economic effects of COVID -19 to exporters and MSMEs in Nigeria is to save jobs, create jobs, support resilience in shoring up foreign exchange, diversification, modernization of Nigeria’s economy and acceleration of economic growth and economic support,’ Adebayo added.
In his remarks, the Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer of the Nigerian Export Promotion Council, Olusegun Awolowo, said the programme was designed by the federal government to cushion the devastating effects and incentivise key sectors of the economy as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
He also said the Export Expansion Facility gives impetus to the work of the government on moving the economy of the country away from mainly depending on oil towards making non-oil exports a major contributor to the country’s foreign exchange revenue.
‘We have organised the structure under seven strategic focus areas namely – Capacity Building, Export Aggregation, Export Inclusion, Emergency Intervention, Export Trade Facilitation, Institutional Strengthening and Market Development. These work streams operate under a Programme Office domiciled in the Nigeria Export Promotion Council.
‘As we officially launch the EEFP, it is important to demonstrate that we will be guided by the principles of transparency, accountability, efficiency and information. To this end, as we launch the EDF, we will apply the use of technology through the Grant Management Portal which ‘Goes live’ today that we will be equalising opportunities to achieve inclusive economic growth through non-oil exports.
‘The Export Development Fund is a pre-shipment incentive stipulated in the NEPC Act, which due to lack of funds was never activated. We were however overjoyed by the provision of the Export Expansion Facility which provided the opportunity for us to finally activate the Fund for our teeming SME exporting companies, who over the years have been unable to access the active Export Expansion Grant, which is a post-shipment incentive. We are confident that through this facility, we will save jobs and create jobs as we work towards moving us from #Pandemic2Prosperity,’ Awolowo said.
In his goodwill message, Jigawa Governor, Mohammed Badaru Abubakar, said the flag-off of the EDF was long awaited considering it has been 17 years since the enactment of the Export and Miscellaneous Act, 2004.