Members of the leather and allied product manufacturers association of Nigeria (LAPAN) have re-echoed their opposition to the Export Expansion Grant (EEG) policy of the federal government arguing that it is doing more harm than good to the country.
In a memorandum submitted to the House of Representatives Committee on trade and investment at the weekend, the group maintained that as leather dealers, they have been kicked out of business due to the lopsided implementation of the EEG policy.
The memorandum signed by the chairman of the board of trustees of LAPAN, Malam Bashir Ibrahim Danyaro, faulted those who claim that more jobs have been created due to the implementation of the EEG policy.
The group said: "There is the argument that the beneficiary companies do provide jobs but can the jobs they give compare to the ones destroyed from the local tanners who do not have the financial muscles to compete in buying the raw skins?"
"Due to the unfair 30 percent EEG given to these exporters, thousands of jobs were lost in the shoe industries around the country.We have the leather cottage industry which depends solely on local tanners for leather that have been badly hit."
Also, it said jobs have been lost at the Aba shoe clusters, and the Kofar Wambai where hundreds of thousands of shoe artisans used to be busy producing different brands of articles for home and export.
LAPAN further argued that: "These beneficiaries of the EEG in the leather sector have driven the price to an all time high, making it impossible for any local user of leather to remain profitable in the business. For them, head or tail, they are winners because after all the incurable cost, they are dashed or they collect a gift of 30 per cent EEG -courtesy of the federal government of Nigeria.
" The committee should try and find out what causes the closure of these shoe factories such as Bata shoes, silver shoes, Anita shoes, Exclusive leather, Whanu shoes, Lennards shoes, Ajalyn shoes, Kenny shoes, Unix shoes, John white and a host of others not mentioned. All these were household names in Nigeria shoe industries providing hundreds of thousands of jobs."
The memoranda also called for urgent scrutiny of the of the EEG disbursement alleging that in 2008, the value of leather exported from Nigeria was $500 million and in 2010, the value shot up to $3billion. "What a coincidence as 2010 was the year EEG returned and that was the same year poverty has eaten deep into Nigeria," the group claimed.