The Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Godwin Emefiele, has disclosed that the race for the $200 billion in foreign exchange (FX) repatriation programme (RT200) of the bank has boosted repatriation of funds into the country by 40 per cent in 2022.
Emefiele also said that in the first quarter of 2023, the country recorded $1.7 billion inflows due to the non-oil export initiative.
The CBN governor said this during the third edition of the biannual RT200 non-oil export summit held in Lagos, where stakeholders converged to discuss, “RT200: Challenges and Prospects to Success.”
Emefiele also said the apex bank was monitoring some shipping companies aiding and abetting the smuggling of goods, warning that there were plans to sanction such companies by placing a post-no debit (PND) on the bank accounts.
Responding to comments by exporters on the transparency of the beneficiaries of the rebate scheme, Emefiele said the CBN would begin to publish the beneficiaries from next week, in its bid to foster transparency.
Emefiele said, “Today, I am happy to note that the RT200 programme has made good progress in export precede repatriation since its establishment in February 2022.
“When we started between February and March, it was only $62 million, by the second quarter it had risen to about $600 million and by the third quarter it had risen to over $900 million.
“Available data shows that repatriation due to the programme increased by 40 per cent from $3 billion in 2021, to $5.6 billion at the end of 2022. The momentum for 2023 is equally showing strong numbers and impressive prospects.
“In the first quarter of 2023, a total of $1.7 billion was repatriated to the economy while about $790 million was sold at the investors and exporters’ (I&E) window year-to-date. The balance of the proceeds remained in the Export Domiciliary Accounts of exporters.
“Please note that proceeds that are not sold at the I&E window cannot and will not be eligible for rebate. So, we encourage those holding their export proceeds in their domiciliary accounts to take advantage of the rebate by selling at the I&E window.”
Commenting on threat to sanction erring companies, he said shipping companies involved in smuggling goods out of the country would be penalised and urged them not to encourage criminality.
Emefiele said: “All we do is to monitor and appeal to exporters and for people to export and when they do export, that they should repatriate their proceeds for the good of their company and the country in general.
“We keep hearing cases of people trying as much as possible to sidestep the process and all I can do now is to appeal to those of us who want to export without documentation to please try as much as possible to desist from this practice.
“We will continue to engage customs, we will continue to engage the Nigeria Ports Authority and we will continue to engage the shipping lines and agents to ensure that we nip in the bud the incidences of exporting without documentation.
“What this does is to reduce the export earning potential of the country. About three years ago when we had a meeting at the CBN in Lagos, with the shipping lines, I had said that the CBN would be beaming the searchlight on undocumented exports and we had advised the shipping lines at that meeting that we will also be monitoring and if we find that they export without documentation we will fine them by placing their accounts on PND.
“We have so far not done anything like that, because we feel that our shipping lines will be responsible to do what is right, but if we do not see the kind of cooperation that we expect, I will have to insist that we do what we need to do.”
“We will advertise all those that benefitted from January till March and we would advertise it by next week so Nigerians can see it.”
On his part, Lagos state Governor, Sanwo-Olu commended the CBN, even as he said he anticipated that the summit would birth more policies that would encourage more non-oil exports.
Sanwo-Olu, who was represented by the Commissioner in charge of Economic Planning and Budget, Samuel Egube said: “The Central Bank of Nigeria is demonstrating serious commitments to the success of these initiatives through a range of incentives, aimed at encouraging increased activities in the non -oil export sector as well as repatriation of foreign exchange into the Nigerian economy.
“It is also encouraging to note that this program, in addition to several other initiatives by the federal government is yielding the desired results as shown by the recent reports of the Nigerian Export Promotion Council indicating that our non-oil exports grew by about 40 per cent in 2022 to $4.2 billion.
“We must be courageous and think deeply in evaluating all ideas and figuring out how to combat even some of our challenges, including topical issues, like the human resource exports, also known as the ‘Japa’ phenomenon into sustainable advantages for national developments and a source of non-oil exports that could result in huge diaspora remittances.
Also speaking at the summit, the Chief Executive Officer, Fidelity Bank, Nneka Onyeali-Ikpe, said her bank was able to achieve zero non-performing-loans (NPLs) on its transaction with exporters.
She said: “Our lending experience has been great. This is mainly because we took our time to understand the business and also made significant investments in the area of business management capacity development.
“Our flagship export management program has run for over six years and has graduated over 600 trainees who are now active exporters.
“Building on our understanding of the space, we then created lending programmes that de-risk the risks of lending to businesses in this space. This has translated into a strong performance of our loans in this area with zero NPL.”