COVID-19: FG Disburses N58bn as Palliative to MSMEs

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James Emejo in Abuja

The Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Mrs. Maryam Katagum, has revealed that over N58 billion had been disbursed to beneficiaries under the MSME Survival Fund Scheme and Guaranteed Off-take Scheme (GOS) as part of the initiative by the federal government to ameliorate the adverse impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on Micro Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs).

Specifically, she said N1.1 billion had been disbursed to businesses under the GOS which is the fifth track of the MSME Survival Fund Scheme.
She said the amount represented 30 per cent mobilisation in respect of the delivery of products as at September 34, 2021.

Katagum, who declared the annual conference of the Commerce and Industry Correspondents Association of Nigeria (CICAN) open over the weekend in Abuja, explained that the track had successfully taken off with 37,018 beneficiaries delivering various products ranging from foodstuff to basic household materials.

The minister had in November 2020 unveiled the National MSME Survival Fund and the Guaranteed Off-take Scheme (GOS), both targeted towards assisting Micro Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) to overcome the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Both interventions which would gulp a total of N75 billion are core part of the N2.3 trillion Nigeria Economic Sustainability Plan (NESP) currently being implemented by the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration to help cushion the impact of the pandemic with a view to boosting the economy by saving existing jobs and creating new job opportunities.

Speaking at the conference, attended by chief executives of ministries and parastatals under the ministry, Katagum also said that under the NESP, another N50 billion was allocated to the Export Expansion Fund/Grant under the Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC).

She said till date, 459,000 beneficiaries, under the Payroll Support had received between N90,000 – N150,000, representing three months salary.
The minister added that under the artisans and transport tracks of the schemes, 293,000 have benefited from one-off grants of N30,000 each while 82,000 businesses have received N50,000 one-off grants under the MSME Grants.

The minister said the federal government had overtime, created platforms to improve access to finance for MSMEs in order to boost production, increase the value of trade, enhance the investment climate, foster innovation and entrepreneurship.

This, she added, is in addition to the deliberate and pragmatic policies geared towards supporting and sustaining small businesses in the country, thereby equipping entrepreneurs to compete globally, especially under the Africa Continental Free Trade Area Agreement (AfCFTA).
According to her, these initiatives also take into account the importance of digital technology in promoting enterprises and sustainable industrialisation for economic growth.

Katagum also said that in a bid to guarantee continuity in support of MSMEs in the country, the federal government harnessed the prime policies of the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) and the National Enterprise Development Programme (NEDEP) into the Nigeria Economic Sustainability Plan (NESP), in order to sustainably create an enabling environment for businesses to thrive.

She added that these policies are aimed at boosting productivity levels of businesses in the country, thereby accelerating the growth of the domestic market and creating profitable connections to regional, continental and global markets.