FG Disburses N12.4bn to MSMEs to Ameliorate COVID-19 Impact


James Emejo and Folalumi Alaran in Abuja
The Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Mr. Niyi Adebayo, said the federal government has so far disbursed a total sum of N12.4 billion to micro, small and medium sized enterprises (MSMEs) through the Bank of Industry (BoI) as part of efforts to mitigate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Speaking at the opening of the 12th meeting of the National Council on Industry, Trade and Investment (NCITI), in Abuja, with the theme:”Revitalisation of the Industry, Trade and Investment Sector in Nigeria in the Post COVID-19 Pandemic Era,” he said the risks of the pandemic was being mitigated by the government by exploring ways to catalyse and sustain production, creating supply chains, preventing market disruption through efforts to alleviate the financial impact on small businesses.

The minister pointed out that the federal government, through his ministry remained committed to the pursuit of implementing the Nigeria Economic Sustainability Plan MSMEs Fund (NESP-F) to revitalise and strengthen small enterprises against the pandemic.
Adebayo who further stressed the benefits of the Survival Fund and Guaranteed Off-take Schemes launched as part of the NESP to tackle the effects of COVID-19, however, challenged the state governments to support the federal government in all its initiatives and to also encourage them to come up with pragmatic measures towards revitalising the industry, trade and investment sectors in their respective domains so as to move the country to the next level of the post COVID-19 era.

He said the industry, trade and investment sector remained crucial in the drive towards the diversification of the country’s economy away from an oil dominated economy for sustainable job creation and wealth generation.
The minister stressed the role of his ministry in creating an enabling environment that stimulates domestic investment and attract foreign direct investment into all sectors of the economy among others.

Earlier, the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment, Dr. Nasir Sani- Gwarzo, who chairs the council, said the ministry was vigorously embarking on the review the country’s trade policy and the Nigerian Industrial Revolution Plan (NIRP).

Gwarzo said the ministry is currently working in collaboration with the World Bank to develop a Sector Strategic Plan 2020-2030 to serve as roadmap and guide for a sustainable revitalisation of the Industry, trade and investment sector of the economy.
He further disclosed that the ministry plans to organise a novel trade and investment week with the sole purpose of showcasing potentials in the sector.

He said the Investment Protection Agreement (IPA) with Singapore and Morroco had been signed by the federal government, stressing that efforts are currently being made to collaborate with the ministry of justice for the production of the instrument ratification for the signature of President Muhammadu Buhari.

Among other things, the perm sec said the ministry is also working to develop a coordinated approach to investment promotion within 25 States of the federation including the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
He said when fully finalised and operational, the ongoing initiatives would facilitate the reinvigoration of the sector for growth and development.

According to him, efforts are also being made by all the agencies under the ministry to develop a post- COVID-19 Plans that would assist them to navigate the challenges posed by the pandemic.

He, however, enjoined participants to deploy their expertise and experiences during the technical meeting to proffer necessary measures towards repositioning the sector in the post – COVID-19 era as currently being done in other sectors to move the country to the next level of socioeconomic development.

He added that the ministry had been implementing the industrial sector policies including cement; cotton textile and garment; tomato; leather and leather; automotive plan; and sugar master plan among others.