James Emejo and Folalumi Alaran in Abuja
The Minister of State for Industry, Trade and Investment, Mrs. Mariam Katagum, has said creating opportunities for micro, small and medium scale enterprises (MSMEs) remains essential for increasing productivity, job creation as well as boosting the economy.
She said creating an enabling environment for them to thrive has become extremely important given that small businesses currently contributed about 50 per cent to the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and accounted for over 80 per cent eighty per cent of employment
Katagum, at the 27th edition of the National Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) Clinic in Gombe State, said the sector remained the engine of growth of any economy.
She pointed out that the federal government was not relenting on its efforts to partnering stakeholders across all sectors to ensure that MSMEs have the support they needed to grow.
She added that current interventions were geared towards enhancing the competitiveness and quality of services rendered by small businesses, as well as to position them to compete with their counterparts both within the country and globally.
Consequently, Katagum said there’s a compelling need for every state and local government areas in the country to identify areas of comparative advantage, particularly in agriculture and other resource endowments, and build competences for food sufficiency and export.
She added that this had become more pressing, considering that trading under the African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement (AfCFTA) had already commenced on 1st January 1, 2021.
The minister said the federal government was fully committed to empowering Nigerians, especially in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, through the National Economic Sustainability Plan (NESP) which aimed to douse the impact of the pandemic on small businesses.
Katagum, who is the Chairperson of the Survival Fund and Guaranteed Offtake schemes under the NESP said: “These interventions, which have reached considerable implementation levels and received accolades and positive testimonies nationwide, have provisions for 45 per cent female-owned businesses, as well as five per cent for those with special needs.
“Some key tracks include, Payroll Support; General MSME Grant; Artisan/Transport Grant; and Free Business Registration”.
The minister further emphasised that the Federal Executive Council (FEC) had recently approved the revised National MSMEs, which provides the framework to resolve the challenges faced by the sector.
She explained that the aim of the review process was to ensure that the revised policy reflects unfolding economic and social imperatives affecting MSMEs in the country and align with international best practices in MSMEs development.
The minister expressed optimism that the implementation of the policy will set the MSMEs on the path of sustainable growth and development.