The federal government has approved a ₦10 billion survival fund for transport operators. The funds is to serve as palliative to mitigate the effects of COVID-19 on the transporters.
Minister of state for Transportation, Sen. Gbemisola Saraki, made this known when the president, Public Transport Owners of Nigeria Association (PTONA), Engr Isaac Uhunwagho, led the association’s National Executive Committee and Trustees on a courtesy visit to the minister in Abuja yesterday.
The minister said the funds will help cushion the sufferings encountered by road transport workers and operators as a result of COVID-19 pandemic.
She stated that the funds is domiciled at the Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment, adding that the Federal Ministry of Transportation is currently working on the modalities for its disbursement.
A statement signed by the director of press of the ministry, Erik Ojiekwe, said while the minister recognises the fact that about 90 percent of Nigerians travel by road, she revealed that the federal government will soon initiate a master plan that will reform the sector and sought the buy-in of all stakeholders.
Reacting to the challenges operators face from state governments and other stakeholders, the minister gave the assurance that she will discuss the issues through the National Transport Commissioners Forum.
She also disclosed that she is in talks with the Federal Ministry of Works and Housing on the concessionning of some routes which she believes is the best way to go so as to increase government revenue.
She further, enjoined members of the association to avoid duplicity and formalise their structures in an organised manner for better engagements, with the ministry and other relevant agencies.
Earlier, president of PTONA, Uhunwagho stated that their visit was to intimate the minister with the challenges their members were facing.
Uhunwagho said, “Our future in the ‘one chance’ business is now encouraging.”
He pleaded for financial palliatives for his members to prevent their businesses from folding up.
…Zenith Bank seeks expansion of non-oil exports
Meanwhile, the group managing director/chief executive of Zenith Bank, Mr Ebenezer Onyeagwu has called for a concerted effort towards diversifying the country’s export base through the promotion of non-oil exports. He made the call during a Webinar themed “Prospects of Non-Oil Export During and Post COVID-19” organised by the bank yesterday.
According to him, the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic which has impacted the demand for oil and, by extension, the price of crude oil in the international commodities market has further exposed Nigeria’s over-dependence on crude oil earnings and its susceptibility to oil-related shocks.
He added that the events of the last couple of months have also highlighted the limited range of the country’s value-added products exported to foreign markets.
Speaking further, he noted that boosting non-oil export is imperative in view of the opportunities that exist in the broader contexts of ECOWAS Trade Liberalisation Scheme and the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) which seeks to create a continent-wide market of 1.2 billion people with combined Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of $2.5 trillion and about $4 trillion in consumer and business spending.
Whilst commending the efforts of the government and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to deepen the non-oil export business in the country, Onyeagwu urged players in the non-oil export value-chain including exporters and financial institutions to play their part in the drive towards expanding the nation’s non-oil export base.
Delivering the keynote address, the director of Trade & Exchange, Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Dr (Mrs) Ozoemena Nnaji, who commended Zenith Bank for organising the webinar at a time like this, observed that the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic is a wake-up call for the country, as it has once again exposed the over-dependence of the Nigerian economy on one product. She therefore called for a deeper policy to look at the non-oil sector to find ways of genuinely improving the quality and quantity of the nation’s non-oil export goods.
Also speaking at the Webinar, the chief executive/executive director of the Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC), Mr Olusegun Awolowo commended the efforts of Zenith Bank in promoting non-oil export business in Nigeria, describing the bank as ‘the Export Trade Bank of Nigeria’.
Speaking on the topic “Repositioning Non-oil export as a Leading Revenue Earner: Government Plans and Programmes”, Awolowo noted that the crash in oil prices following the COVID-19 pandemic and OPEC’s price war with Russia reinforced what everyone already knows – the mono-product economy of the country is not sustainable, calling for a buy-in into the Zero oil policy of NEPC.
Zenith Bank remains committed to the promotion of the non-oil export sector in Nigeria by identifying emerging opportunities which help in stimulating non-oil exports and developing robust financial products and incentives for operators in the sector.
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