Minister of Finance, Ngozi Okonjo Iweala
The National Association of Small Scale Industrialists (NASSI) has criticised moves by the Federal Government to scrap the National Economic Reconstruction Fund (NERFUND).
The NERFUND, which was established in 1989 provides long/medium term loans to entrepreneurs through commercial banks to stimulate industrial growth.
In addition, it facilitates the provision of loans with five to 10 year maturity, depending on the nature of the enterprises or project.
Speaking at the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Goldmond Limited for the brand development and publicity for NASSI, a statement quoted the National President, NASSI, Chief Chukwu Wachukwu, to have argued that NERFUND is the body funding the industry, saying that such a move would further distort the growth of small and medium scale enterprises (SMEs) in the country.
He also called for the creation of Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) bank to finance small scale enterprises. Wachukwu who was said to have commended First Bank of Nigeria for its contributions towards SMEs development, however urged other commercial banks to increase funding to the real sector.
He expressed the optimism that NASSI’s relationship with Goldmond would take the association to greater heights, saying that NASSI has the potential to mobilise funds for members as well as to make them have access to finance.
He argued that 95 per cent of the country’s Gross Domestic Products (GDP) were from the industrial sectors.
He also insisted that the industrial sector had continued to contribute to employment generation, more than any other sector.
According to him, NASSI has offices in 37 states, including the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
NASSI had about two months ago received a total of N109 billion from First Bank of Nigeria for on-leading to its members across the country.
The fund was meant to promote the growth and development of SMEs and to mitigate the challenges of credit delivery to the unbanked market segment through mobilised funds. In addition, First Bank had also pledged to support NASSI through business advisory services, capacity building and development of relevant IT infrastructure.
In his response, Managing Director/Chief Executive of Goldmond, Mr. A.W. Donnett, said: “Today, as we go into this MoU, I want to emphatically promise that we will play our role to ensure that NASSI is very well publicised.”