Govts Urged to Support SMEs

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Oluchi Chibuzor

Governments across all levels have been urged to intensify efforts to save small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) in the country.

This, is because SMEs are generally vulnerable as they have little capacity to withstand shocks, considering the magnitude of losses the coronavirus pandemic has inflicted on businesses.

The call was made at the ICCN 21st Annual General Meeting (AGM) held virtually recently, with the theme: “SMEs, Bedrock of Economic Recovery after COVID-19 Pandemic.”

Speaking, the Chairman ICCN and Regional Coordinator, Sub-saharan Africa, Babatunde Savage, said Nigeria has a large informal sector, which contributes 65 per cent to the aggregate economy.

He said, we therefore, “wish to suggest the need for governments at all levels to intensify efforts in making the environment more conducive for the SMEs as the sub-sector constitutes the bedrock for economic emancipation anywhere in the world.

“To combat the economic repercussions of this pandemic, ICC believes that urgent and decisive action by all stakeholders is needed. We call on everyone, including governments, international organisations, multilateral development banks, business organisations, and multi-national corporations, to cooperate and coordinate their actions to Save Our SMEs.”

Savage also said: “The immediate objective of all stimulus efforts should be to ensure that money flows rapidly into the real economy and, in particular, to those most vulnerable to the economic disruptions caused by COVID-19 as well as ensuring that developing countries receive adequate assistance.

“The imperative to save our SMEs cannot be overstated. This agenda is of paramount importance to safeguard the current and future functioning of the global economy and the livelihoods of billions of workers throughout the world.”

However, ICCN stressed the need for governments to ensure their policy responses to the pandemic, “provides direct and immediate support to small businesses to ensure their continued operation and workers and those most vulnerable both at home and abroad; ensure support reaches SMEs and their workers quickly; reverse and ban all tariffs, quotas and other non-tariff measures that affect the deployment of medical equipment, medicines and other essential goods and services including foodstuffs.”

On her part, the President, Lagos Chamber of Commerce & Industry, Mrs. Toki Mabogunje, said according to a recent downward revision of global growth estimates by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the Nigerian economy was expected to record its most severe contraction in four decades by year-end.