Friday, February 3, 2012

N100bn Textile Fund: FG, NASS under pressure to investigate disbursements, beneficiaries

The Federal Government and the National Assembly is been pressured by traders and other stakeholders in the textile sector to probe the disbursement and beneficiaries of the 100 billion textile bailout fund. Peoples Daily reliably gathered that various petitions and letters have been written to the Presidency and National Assembly by concerned stakeholders in the textile sector who lamented that four years after the disbursement of N100 billion bailout fund for the dying textile sector, the textile market is yet to ‘bubble’ with locally produced products. The textile bailout fund was established by former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s administration as a promotional facility to revive and encourage new investments in the cotton and textile sectors to boost production of textile goods in the country. Some of the groups, which included the National Association of Nigerian Traders (NANTS) and the Association of Banks, Insurance and other Financial Institutions (ASSBIFI) called for the urgent investigation of the fund which they say has be a blessing to the revival of textile industry in the country. Other stakeholders promised to continue pressurising the government to the investigate “the beneficiaries, how they emerged, how was the money spent and mode of disbursement of the fund.” The National President of ASSBIFI, Comrade Sunday Salako said, “We call on the Presidency to investigate the N80 billion intervention fund to resuscitate the prostrate textile sector, with N20 billion which was supposedly earmarked for the cotton sub-sector/farmers, N50 billion meant for textile manufacturers, while N10 billion was to be dedicated to strengthening Customs surveillance and non-state actors advocacy targeted on campaigns for Made-in-Nigeria textile products that never achieved it set target.” Also, NANTS President, Comrade Ken Ukaoha, in a petition to the Presidency said the fund, which was disbursed through the Bank of Industry (BoI) was meant to revive the textile sector but has not materialised till date. Ukaoha also called on President Jonathan to urgently save the textile sector from total collapse, saying the textile sector of the economy, if fully revived by strengthening the Nigerian textile industries, would create over 500,000 jobs. “We have written President Jonathan to remind him that the textile industry used to be the most vibrant sector of our economy, employing at a time, over 500,000 people. Cotton was then in abundance in Nigeria with an average annual production of 320,000 metric tonnes or 111,000 metric tonnes lint. There were over 125 operating textile companies as well as 72 ginneries spread all over the country producing for the yearning Nigerian market. Salako, on his part said, “There were over 125 operating textile companies as well as 72 ginneries spread all over the country producing for the yearning Nigerian market, making the industry, apart from the banking sector, to be the most vibrant sector of our economy in the mid 70s, employing at a time, over 500,000 people.” According to Salako, President Jonathan’s administration may need to consider adopting a radical approach through a subtle pronouncement targeted at strongly encouraging Nigerians towards patronising Made-in-Nigeria textile products, by reviewing Nigeria’s membership and commitment to the World Trade Organisation (WTO) as its policies, which in most cases are anti-developmental in nature to the economy of Nigeria. “We critically envisage that such policy pronouncement is very critical towards generating the employment for millions of Nigerians envisaged by the nation’s development agenda- Vision 20:2020", he said. He also called on President Goodluck Jonathan to create the enabling environment, especially for the survival of the manufacturing industries to revive the textile sector.

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