FG Disburses N66bn to Beneficiaries under MSME Survival Fund 

•Says 2,538 MSMEs benefited from guaranteed offtake scheme in south-east

James Emejo in Abuja and Gideon Arinze in Enugu

The Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Mrs. Mariam Katagum, yesterday disclosed that a total of N66 billion had been disbursed directly to 1.26 million beneficiaries under the MSME Survival Fund and Guaranteed Off-take Scheme, including those registered by Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC).

The minister said 38 per cent of the beneficiaries were women including 2 per cent to people with special needs.

The MSME Survival Fund and Guaranteed Off-take Scheme is a programme of the federal government under the Nigeria Economic Sustainability Plan (NESP) which was launched in September 2020 to overcome the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The interventions which would gulp a total of N75 billion are part of the N2.3 trillion 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 MSME Survival Fund and Guaranteed Off-take beneficiary Townhall Meeting in Abuja, Katagum said the purpose of the townhall meetings was to highlight the scheme’s achievements around the country and to receive beneficiary feedback on all tracks of the scheme.

She added that the gathering meetings which were held simultaneously in Lagos (South-West); Kano (North-West); Bauchi (North-East); Enugu (South-East); and, Edo (South-South), would also serve as a medium to sensitize the public on the advantages of federal government interventions.

The minister noted that the anticipated impact of the programme was to directly engage 100,000 MSMEs in the production sector alone and save at least 1.3 million jobs.

The scheme further set a special target of 45 per cent for female-owned MSMEs, and 5 per cent for those with special needs. The target beneficiaries for the scheme were self-employed entrepreneurs, and micro and small businesses registered in Nigeria.

The minister, however, acknowledged that there were challenges encountered during the implementation of the programme.

She said, “Initial lack of trust by the beneficiaries as it required obtaining their details, including BVN. The above is closely related to the initial apathy by Nigerians on government intervention programmes as they assumed that you needed to know someone to benefit from the scheme.

“There was a heavy reliance on the use of Information Communication Technology, for transparency and traceability, which also, left the programme susceptible to attempts at infiltration by internet scammers.

“There were also instances of multiple applications using forged documentation, fake beneficiaries, and attempts to bribe officials to bypass the processes.

“Several enumerations exercises were carried out to get the required number of beneficiaries in some states. Under the Guaranteed Off-take Scheme, 19,928 beneficiaries failed to deliver their items after receiving the 30 per cent mobilisation fee, thereby breaching their contract with the federal government. “

She added that the implementation of the survival fund across the five tracks yielded positive results.

The minister said, “Notwithstanding the challenges faced, the project enjoyed the tremendous support of various state governments who provided warehouses and logistics to ensure a hitch-free exercise.

Meanwhile, the federal government has disclosed that no fewer than 2,538 MSMEs have so far benefitted from the federal government’s Guaranteed Offtake Scheme in the South-east region.

Member, MSME Survival Fund Steering Committee, Ubadigbo Okonkwo made this known yesterday in Enugu, during a town hall meeting organised for beneficiaries of the scheme. 

He explained that the purpose of the meeting was to highlight the scheme’s achievements around the country and to receive feedback from beneficiaries on all tracks of the scheme.

Okonkwo explained that apart from the Guaranteed Offtake Scheme, the region had also benefitted from various schemes of the federal government, which he said included payroll support, MSME grant, artisan and transport and the CAC formalisation support scheme.

He maintained that the meeting which was held simultaneously across the six geo-political zones was  also intended to sensitise the public, especially the informal sector on the advantages of the federal government’s interventions.

“The anticipated impact of the entire program was to directly engage 100,000 MSMEs in the production sector alone and save at least 1.3 million jobs, “he said, adding that the program gave special focus to 45 per cent female-owned SMEs and five per cent for those with special needs.

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