By James Emejo
The Bank of Industry (BoI), yesterday said about 311,000 employees of small companies have been supported under the payroll support initiative of the MSME Survival Fund Scheme.
Stakeholder Engagement Representative, BoI, Mr. Akan Ekure, added that about 64,000 companies had also been verified to date.
The payroll support scheme was introduced by the federal government to ameliorate the adverse impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on small and medium enterprises to enable vulnerable Nigerians keep their jobs and as well as the businesses to thrive.
Under the initiative, employees of approved enterprises are paid between N30,000 to N50,000 for a period of three months.
However, speaking at the MSME Survival Fund – payroll support activation programme in Abuja, some of the beneficiary companies and staff, commended the federal government’s gesture adding that the intervention helped to stabilise their firms as well as saved many jobs.
The businesses further urged the government to extend the programme from three months to one year and expand the maximum number of beneficiaries from the current 10 staff per enterprise to about 20 staff so as to make more impact.
They said this would help them further cope and stabilise given that the COVID-19 impact is still much evident globally and in the country.
The businesses particularly admitted that government’s support had been a major lifeline for small business since the outbreak of the pandemic.
Responding to their requests however, Ekure, said although the programme was designed and approved for three months, their requests will be conveyed to appropriate authorities for possible action.
He said: “For now that is the status quo but as we have heard all the request and cries from beneficiaries for an extension, we would carry that to our principals and see what can be done because we all know that resources are finite these days.
“The global economy is tough and so with the limited resources the federal government has, they are doing what they can.
“We all know the federal government is not deaf but willing to listen. We will take all these to them and see whether it can be extended and what can be done.”
The survival fund and guaranteed offtake schemes are valued at N75 billion and are part of the N2.3 trillion stimulus package of the Nigerian Economic Sustainability Plan (NESP) unveiled by the government designed to provide a lifeline to Micro Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.