Implement N550bn ESF to boost export, CBN urged  

…Demands  improved infrastructure

Bimbola Oyesola

The Organised Private Sector (OPS) has reiterated the need for the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to support export growth in the country through redeeming the N550 billion export stimulation fund to exporters.

This is even as it has identified the provision of key infrastructure and implementation of revised incentives as measures to aid development in the sector.

According to the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) and the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), production cost by exporters remains high, largely because of infrastructure issues. The stakeholders noted that such operating costs have affected the competitiveness and profit margin of exporters.

They added that about N550 billion export stimulation fund promised by the CBN is yet to be made available to exporters, stressing the need to properly implement the new Export Expansion Grant (EEG) including defraying the outstanding debts.

“Facilities for testing of the quality of the export products and the generation of quality reports are still lacking in the country. Reliable testing facilities are necessary for the generation of credible quality assessment report. The solid mineral sector is the most affected by this challenge. It is, therefore, very important that government puts in place standard quality testing laboratories for exporters and for export products in 2018.

“Access roads to Lagos ports were nightmares for exporters in 2017. The delays posed significant risks to the quality of export products, especially agricultural export products.

“The cost of transportation of export products from the hinterlands to the cities has become astronomical. This is also a major factor affecting the competitiveness of export products. This is particularly the case for export products that have a lot of weight,” the OPS added.

The OPS also raised concerns about the incursion of foreigners into the export of primary products and the consequent crowding out of domestic exporters was a major concern for the exporting community in 2017, noting that export of processed food is a key example of such activities.

They also noted that exporters expressed concern over the introduction of exorbitant handling charges by Terminal Operators at the Lagos port. They added, “40,000 was imposed on 20-foot container and N60, 000 on 40-foot container for export.

No fewer than 2,700 vehicles were indiscriminately parked from Apapa to Surulere up till Ikorodu road and they did not spare the flyover bridges in along the axis, thereby causing reduction in lifespan of the bridges.

“Besides, the hectic traffic logjam caused by these trucks are by no small measure wreaking havoc on the roads, which may be fast becoming dilapidated, just as the Apapa roads.”‎

The Director-General of MAN, Segun Ajayi-Kadir had noted that the traffic jam on these roads currently hampers access to the sea ports, paralysing economic activities, engendering loss of man hour, enormous wastage of fuel, huge increase in cargo dwell time, causing preventable accidents and heightened security risk.

He added that trucks hired by members of the OPS to carry cargoes cannot have easy access to the port to lift or deliver cargoes and those lifting cargoes cannot come out of the port because of the long hours of traffic.

“Imagine a situation where it is taking between five and eight weeks for our members to take delivery of their cargoes of vital raw materials. These same port users now pay between N350,000 and N400,000 as cargo transport cost as against the standard rate N100,000 per cargo.

“Most worrisome is the fact that this challenge is also leading to heavy revenue loss to Government, overly too long turnaround time for delivery of cargoes, huge transportation cost, avoidable raw materials stock-out, inability of companies to meet set production targets to mention but a few. This by all standards is not business friendly”, he said.