June 18, (THEWILL) – Leading bank chiefs, industrialists, regulatory agencies and other stakeholders, the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr Godwin Emefiele, has kick-started moves toward the actualisation of the historic RT 200 FX Programme aimed at boosting non-oil foreign exchange earnings.
At the well-attended ‘RT200 Non-oil Export Summit 2022’ held in Lagos on Thursday, June 16, 2022, with the theme, ‘Setting the Roadmap Toward Achieving RT200 and Non-Oil Exports for Development’, Emefiele drew attention to the perennial forex challenge that has plagued the economy, which gave rise to the RT200 scheme, as a way out.
He emphasised that the gathering was a problem-solving one and ensured that every identified complaint, challenge or obstacle must have a practicable solution.
He left no one in doubt about the passion to make the RT200 dream a reality in an event that he sat from the beginning to the end and made contributions at the end of every segment. Speakers, panelists and moderators towed the same path of identifying roadblocks to effective implementation of the Non-Oil Forex Earnings initiative launched four months earlier, to the delight of participants.
The “RT200 FX Programme”, which stands for the “Race to US$200 billion in FX Repatriation,” is aimed at getting $200 billion in non-oil Foreign Exchange (FX) repatriation over the next 3-5 years, based on stipulated guidelines. While unveiling the programme on February 10, 2022, Emefiele explained that “The RT200 FX Programme is a set of policies, plans and programmes for non-oil exports that will enable the country to attain its lofty yet attainable goal of US$200 billion in FX repatriation, exclusively from non-oil exports, over the next 3-5 years”.
To ensure effective implementation through target deliverables, the RT200 FX initiative is anchored to five pillars: Value-Adding Exports Facility, Non-Oil Commodities Expansion Facility, Non-Oil FX Rebate Scheme, Dedicated Non-Oil Export Terminal and Biannual Non-Oil Export Summit. Each of these anchors represents a channel of implementation that tackles every applicable aspect with measurable indices.
The one-day event which attracted participants from the financial services industry, manufacturers, exporters, shipping firms, regulatory authorities and other stakeholders, was the fifth of the pillars on which the programme is anchored: “Biannual Non-Oil Export Summit”.
In his address, Emefiele explained that the RT200 FX programme was borne out of the realisation that most of our current sources of foreign exchange inflows were unreliable, and perennially prone to exogenous vicissitudes of global economic developments.
“In order to avoid these sudden adjustments to our economic life, we needed to focus on strategies that can help us earn more stable and sustainable inflows of foreign exchange. We would need to follow the best practices of other countries and ensure that we protect ourselves a little bit from factors that are beyond our immediate control,” Emefiele said.
For example, he mentioned the ever-changing fortunes of oil-exporting countries which he observed would not spare those that have been reputed to manage their oil proceeds well as they also would suffer from major shocks once oil prices plummet.
Recalling that the RT200 FX effectively kicked off within two months of its launch with the payment of a total of N3.5 billion in rebates to 150 exporters who had taken part in the scheme so far, the CBN governor stressed that the measure should convince stakeholders that the scheme was not set up to attract robust rhetoric but to be implemented for results.
“In continuation of the implementation of the programme, we are gathered here today for the maiden edition of the biannual Non-oil Export Summit to harness ideas on how we can increase the value and volume of export in the country, and improve the availability of foreign exchange therefrom. As things now stand, we really have very little choice left but to look inwards and find innovative solutions to our problems,” he said.
Emefiele also stated that the Nigerian economy has been challenged on many fronts in recent years due to a combination of local and global factors.
He said, “Disruptions due to the COVID-19 pandemic, delays in global logistic value chains and local security challenges have exerted undue pressure on our economy, making macroeconomic management very difficult.
“These factors impacted oil production and prices, disrupted trade and exports, reduced capital inflows and impacted food production. They also exposed the fragility of the Nigerian economy and the need for a more diversified economy.
“Yet, in the face of these challenges, the Central Bank of Nigeria has been confronted with rising demand for foreign exchange for both goods, services, and other needs. With this unabating demand, the Bank has been working to manage both the demand and supply side to meet foreign exchange obligations.”
Lamenting over the bottlenecks that impact on smooth export business through the ports, he pleaded with the key players to support the CBN in its efforts to grow the economy by boosting the non-oil export. He insisted that practical solutions were identified for each problem, and made time-bound in many cases. He stated what CBN’s contribution would be when the panel presentations were made.
Paper presentations were made on ‘Addressing the Logistic Constraints to Improve Non-Oil Export’; ‘Bridging the Finance Gaps, Effects of the CBN Initiatives to Boost Non-Oil Export’; ‘Non-Oil Export Performance in Nigeria: Challenges and Prospect”, and ‘Service Industries: Harnessing the Opportunities in Service for the Foreign Exchange Earnings’.
One of the major outcomes was the decision by the CBN, banks and the Nigerian Ports Authority to fix export bottlenecks in the port in 90 days. The apex bank in collaboration with the Bankers’ Committee, the Nigeria Ports Authority (NPA) and other stakeholders in the non-oil exports agreed to find lasting solutions to export bottlenecks, especially in the ports areas, within 90 days.
Noting that logistics constraints, financing and regulation issues were some of the challenges faced by non-oil exporters, the lead participants agreed that immediate solutions should be found to fix the problems.
One of the solutions is the creation of an immediate dedicated export route for easy export of goods and services and, in the long run, the creation of a national single window for automation of processes and documentation to enhance the ease of exporting goods and services and consequently earn foreign exchange.
“I want to appeal to NPA, Nigerian custom, that we establish a working group comprising the banker’s committee, the NPA, the customs, shipping line to resolve two issues,” the CBN, governor said at the RT200 Non-Oil Export Summit organised by the CBN and the Bankers’ Committee.
He added: “We read about people who want to export goods out of Nigeria queuing for months before their goods can go out. Because time is against us, in the short run, what can the Nigerian Ports Authority and the Nigerian Customs do for exporters, whether you want to create some sort of dedicated route where they can easily export their goods. “We need those export proceeds badly.
It is said that because of finding an easy route for goods to be exported out of the country, Nigerian exporters prefer to transport by road, from Lagos to Accra, to the Republic of Benin. Doing this we lose that export proceeds.”
In his speech, the Managing Director of the Nigerian Ports Authority,n Mohammed Bello-Koko, said: “We need to have one system and that is the national single window. It is a project that has been on stream for over 15 years. And this government has tried to also get it on and implement it. There is a committee chaired by the vice president that has been trying to implement the national single window.
“The national single window is a single platform of interplay where you exchange data, where you feel only one form and that form is enough for Nigerian Customs, standardisation of Nigeria, and so on and so forth.
“It is also a platform where you make payment, whether you are an importer or exporter; if you are paying five government agencies and you are supposed to pay a total of N100,000, and the system automatically distributes the money. I am pleading with the Central Bank of Nigeria and everyone seated here to see this as a national project is really important.”
Emefiele said the event must produce results so that “at the next summit, we should be showing what we have done, what we have achieved and why we failed to achieve what we set out to accomplish.”
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