The Executive Secretary, National Sugar Development Council (NSDC), Dr. Latif Demola Busari, has said plans have been finalised to disburse a total sum of N3.9 billion out of the current N12 billion Sugar Development Fund domiciled in the both the Bank of Industry (BoI) and the Bank of Agriculture (BoA).
He said while N6.4 billion is in BoI, another N3.2 billion was in custody of BoA, adding that the monies were meant for the provision of infrastructure and machineries for the various sugar projects.
Busari said processes had reached advantaged level to N2.4 billion from the fund in BoI and an additional N1.5 billion from that of the BoA for various projects aimed at achieving self-reliance in sugar development as contained in the sugar development masterplan for the country.
Speaking during an interactive session with journalists, he said “though we are not where we ought to be,” new guidelines were being rolled out to fastback the realisation of keys objectives of the master plan.
He also expressed satisfaction that progress had so far been made even though the current election year had slowed down the rate of achievement.
He further said progress had been slow due to the fact that investment in sugar is capital intensive and often difficult to find long-term investors who are willing to commit resources and wait for several years before they can expect returns.
The NSDC boss said smuggling remained a key challenge to the development of the sugar industry.
He regretted that the ban on sugar importation in past five years has had little or no effect as a result of the menace of smuggling to the economy- practically leading to loss of jobs.
Busari, also said he would back the signing of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCTA) so as to put domestic businesses which had been reluctant to grow on their toes, stressing though that this may require some safeguards by government.