The Minister of State for Industry, Trade and Investment (FMITI), Maryam Katagum, has disclosed that the President Muhammadu Buhari-led Federal Government would be supporting Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) to access credit at a single digit rate as part of measures to cushion effect of coronaviruses on businesses and enterprises across the country.
She explained that aside from the credit intervention, the government would also be working with the National Assembly in ensuring relevant policies are worked on passed such that would allow business friendly environment and also attract foreign investments to the country.
The minister who pointed out the critical role MSMEs play in growing the economy, said this role was further heightened during the COVID-19 lockdown and it had become imperative for the government to come in and support the business owners owing to the critical roles they play in every nation’s economy.
Speaking on Friday when members of the Nigerian Association of Small and Medium Enterprises (NASME) visited her in Abuja, said that the intervention would be in line with the president’s directive to ministers during the recent retreat that every support should be given to ensure that MSMEs have access to credits.
“That is what we always preach and we will give every support to the MSMEs as the engine of economic growth to have access to credits at single digits,’’ Katagum said.
Speaking on effects of coronavirus, she said, “even the woman selling groundnut or `akara’ couldn’t come out to practice her passion and everybody felt the effect of the lockdown. We have to appreciate President Muhammadu Buhari for interventions that were provided for MSMEs during the lockdown.
“And once it was identified to put in some mechanism to stop the economy from going under, our ministry is one of the ministries asked to make submissions to see how to keep the economy going and ensure free flow of goods and services across the country. Our proposal was very easily accepted and the sum of N75 billion was allocated and we made a lot of progress.
“Average Nigerians appreciated the efforts and we have seen them giving their testimonies and right now we are on the last track which is the guaranteed off-take scheme,’’ the minister said.
She appealed to the association to identify innovative ways that the Federal Government can assist MSMEs. “As partners your association has to start thinking of new innovative ways that we can assist MSMEs, it’s not just the finance.
“Some when you give them the money, they don’t know what to do with the money so you need to intensify the capacity building and sharing of information to know what is happening and where,’’ she said.
Earlier, the President and Chairman of the governing council of NASME, Dr Abdulrashid Yerima, expressed the association’s commitment to deepen the relationship with the ministry. Yerima appreciated the ministry for including NASME in various committees set up by the government to support the development of MSMEs in Nigeria.
He, however, sought the appointment of members of the association to the boards of parastatals under the ministry and solicited the ministry’s support for inputs into human capital development for the association.
“Our association serving in the board of revenant agencies under the ministry will help us to make informed inputs into the policies of the agencies that impact MSME growth and development in Nigeria.
“Also support for capital development for our association is crucial for development of skills and manpower to upscale MSMEs especially NASME,’’ Yerima said.