From Anthony Nwachukwu, Lagos
Plans are afoot for the Nigerian Export Import Bank (NEXIM) to inject about N5 billion into Multi-Trex Integrated Foods Limited to revive its cocoa plant and value chain, and ultimately boost export.
Towards this, the House of Representatives has urged the Governor of Central Bank (CBN), Mr. Godwin Emefiele, to speed up the dispute settlement between the Assets Management Company of Nigeria (AMCON) and the firm to enable it access a N5 billion credit facility.
The cocoa processing plant had been shut down for about five years over its credit facility from Skye Bank. However, both AMCON and Multi-Trex have now reached an advanced level of agreement that will enable it withdraw its only remaining court case.
Addressing stakeholders during their tour of the plant in Ogun State, the Chairman, House of Representatives Committee on Banking and Currency, Mr. Jones Onyereri, said it was “obvious that the funds (earlier granted) were well utilized” but “the challenges were beyond their control.
“You also saw the machinery on ground, so we must encourage the private sector because that is the only way we can grow the economy.”
Stressing the need to strengthen the manufacturing sector to stimulate economic growth, Onyereri said the nation should “stop running round in circles” but develop the financial services commission, where fiscal and monetary authorities will address the issues of high interest rate and artificial benchmark.
On his part, the NEXIM Managing Director, Mr. Abba Bello, disclosed that discussions were almost finalised, only awaiting Multi-Trex’s terms of settlement with AMCON, as the company’s application is within the N5 billion limit of the Export Stimulating Fund (ESF).
He described it as one of the best projects the bank could support under the ESF “because the equipment are there, this is just for working capital and it means that whatever we lend will be turning around may be 180 days maximum. I am sure by the end of second quarter, we should be done.”
According to him, Multi-Trex went down in the past five years “and it is our determination, under the current export stimulation facility, to bring it back to production. We create jobs by adding value along the value chain of any commodity. If we export cocoa in its raw or semi-processed form, we export jobs along with it.”
Meanwhile, the company’s Vice Chairman/Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Dimeji Owofemi, disclosed that the two trains of the cocoa industry could process 65,000 tons per year at full capacity, and with a ton of cocoa rising last season to N1 million, the N5 billion in view can only buy 5,000 tons.