The Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer of the Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC), Barrister Olusegun Awolowo has assured Nigerian non-oil exporters and operators of the Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) that the Export Expansion Grant made available by the Federal Government would protect jobs and provide new ones towards moving the economy from pandemic to prosperity.
In his welcome remark at the official launch of the Export Expansion Facility, Awolowo said, “You may recall that over a year ago, the COVID-19 pandemic was spreading rapidly all over the world, it triggered a devastating global economic development all over the world and Nigeria was not spared as reports revealed that there was decline in the global export supply chain.”
Telling participants at the ceremony about the intervention of the Federal Government in cushioning the effect of the pandemic on the economy, Awolowo said, “In its wisdom the Nigerian government sought to cushion the effect and strengthen key sectors if the economy.
“As the ED of NEPC, a critical agency in the promotion of non-oil export, I am honoured to be the secretary of the 14 standing committee ably chaired by the Hon Minister of Trade and Investment, Otunba Niyi Adebayo that was inaugurated this year to implement a N50bn Export Expansion Facility under the Federal Government’s N2.3tr economic sustainability plan.
“We are well aware of this responsibility and work tirelessly to ensure that export expansion facility programme is implemented in line with the Federal Government’s objective as a successful intervention to exporters.”
He also told the participants that the facility aimed at moving the economy forward is to operate under seven categories.
“It is aimed at moving our economy away from depending on oil towards making non-oil export a major contributor to earning foreign exchange. It is under seven categories of: Capacity building, Export aggregation, Export inclusion, Emergency intervention, Export trade facilitation, Institutional strengthening and Market development.”
Assuring Nigerians on the deliverables, Awolowo stated further that, “It is important to demonstrate that we shall be guided by principles of transparency, accountability, efficiency and information. We will apply the use of technology through the grant management portal which goes life today that we’ll be equalising opportunities to achieve inclusive economic growth though non-oil export.”
It was also revealed at the flag-off ceremony that the Export Development Fund due to lack of fund has never been activated.
“The Export Development Fund is a per-shipment incentive stipulated in the NEPC Act which due to lack of fund has never been activated. We are overjoyed by the facility which has provided the fund to support our teeming SMEs, exporting companies who over the year have been unable to access the active export expansion grant which is a post-shipment incentive.”
Awolowo was however optimistic that the grant would create and protect jobs in Nigeria.
“We are confident through this facility we’ll protect jobs, create jobs towards moving us from pandemic to prosperity,” he assured.
Also at the event were the Honourable Minister of Trade and Investment, Otunba Niyi Adebayo, Mr. Segun Ajayi Kadiri, Director General of Manufacturing Association of Nigeria, Usman Abas from NACIMA, Minister of State for Trade and Investment, Ambassador Mariam Katagun, members of the Board of Trustee, Export Development Fund among other dignitaries.