BY Nse Anthony-Uko
Nigeria Export -Import (NEXIM) Bank, has reiterated its resolve to work with major stakeholders towards meaningful development of the cocoa industry in Nigeria, calling on entrepreneurs in cocoa processing value chain to avail themselves of the N500 billion single digit interest rate funding incentives by the bank as it is set to grant a loan towards the revitalization of Multi-Trex Cocoa processing plant.
Multi-Trex has stopped production since 2015 following a court order relating to its outstanding debt with the Assets Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON).
The Managing Director, NEXIM Bank, Abubakar Abba Bello during a joint facility tour of the plant with members of the House Committee on Banking and Currency, assured of his readiness to effect the processing of the loan application by Multi-Trex.
Reiterating the bank’s commitment to promoting export-oriented investments in the non-oil sectors of the Nigerian economy, he however noted that the terms of settlement between Multi-Trex and the Assets Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) has to be reached in specific terms for the loan application to sail through.
“It is our determination to bring back Multi-Trex to life. This will create jobs and encourage export,” he said just as he challenged the managing director of the company to show more commitment towards revival of the Cocoa giant. Bello said that looking at the huge investment and available equipment in the factory, NEXIM Bank considers it very important to support the project which has the prospect of creating thousands of direct and indirect jobs in the state.
He reiterated that what the company needs is only the working capital, saying that as an export credit institution charged with the mandate to promote export diversification of the non-oil sector, it has in the past supported the cocoa value chain by funding major cocoa processing plants.
Also speaking, the Honorable Chairman, House Committee on Banking and Currency, Hon. John Onyereri stressed the need to encourage the private sector to advance the growth of the economy by reducing the interest rate on loans. He noted that the private sector must be stimulated because it is the only way to grow the economy and that it is so annoying “that we pride ourselves to have the biggest economy in Africa while our private sector’s contribution to the GDP is small.”
Onyereri assured that he will push until the Multi-Trex factory is resuscitated, adding that the lawmakers have the will power to continue to push for it “but nothing is achievable until there is an executive approval.” On his part, the Vice Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Multi-Trex, Mr Dimeji Owofemi said that Cocoa is the largest non-oil commodity in the country and the best way to benefit from this natural resource is to collaborate with the Central Bank Of Nigeria, NEXIM Bank and the Bank of Industry in order to fast tract the revival of the Cocoa processing plant.
He assured that the company which created about 1,500 jobs in the past, would create even more, adding that he has learnt his lessons in terms of effective and efficient management of Multi-Trex.
Commending NEXIM Bank and CBN’s effort in setting up N500 billion funds to help exporters carry out their obligations without financial stress, thereby adding value to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) base of the country, Oladimeji said the money expected to keep the company moving is just a working capital of N4 to N5 billion , adding that it sounds big but looking at the cost of a ton of Cocoa, the money might not be big as such.
A ton of cocoa he said, was one N1million naira in the last season and hence assured that the company will be able to process 65,000 tonnes at full capacity. “The role we will expect the committee to play is to bring the three legs of Bank of Industry, NEXIM and the Bank of Agriculture together so that the risk will be shared because the higher the risk, the higher the return,” he emphasized.
Under the Direct Lending Facility, NEXIM would grant short, medium and long term fixed or floating rate loans, to exporters directly and/or under co-financing/syndication arrangement with eligible banks.
BY Nse Anthony-Uko