As part of efforts to cushion the negative effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on businesses, the federal government has so far disbursed N56 billion to micro, small and medium-sized businesses out of the N75 billion survival fund set aside to stimulate the sector by President Muhammadu Buhari.
It has also begun full activation of the six private sector-led Special Economic Zones of Lekki in Lagos state; Enyimba in Abia state; Funtua in Katsina state; lbom in Akwa Ibom state; Kano in Kano state and Benue in Benue state as the government is working through its agency – the Nigeria Export Processing Zones Authority (NEPZA) in order to ensure that the Authority delivers the establishment of three Special Economic Zones in 2022.
Speaking in Ado-Ekiti, the Ekiti state capital at the opening of the 13th Meeting of the National Council of Industry, Trade and Investment on Monday, Adeniyi Adebayo, the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, stated that the N75 billion survival fund is targeted at strengthening ordinary Nigerians and reduce the poverty index to the nearest minimal.
Adebayo, who was represented by Evelyn Ngige, permanent secretary, Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment, said, “On the N75 billion MSME Survival Fund, the programme has disbursed 8.80 billion to 293,336 beneficiaries under the Artisan Support and Transport Scheme; N43.92 billion to 459,334 beneficiaries under the Payroll Support Scheme, and N4.12 billion to 82.491 beneficiaries under the MSME Grant Scheme.
“In total, the sum of N56.84 billion has been disbursed to 835,161 beneficiaries under the MSME Survival Fund scheme.
“In addition, the Ministry has in line with the Presidential directive, been directed to establish at least one Agro-Processing Zone in each of the 109 Senatorial Zones and commence the process of collecting agro-commodities data in 16 states of Ebonyi, Plateau, Edo, Jigawa Ondo, Gombe, Abia, Benue, Osun, Sokolo, Zamfara, Enugu, Ekiti, Bauchi, Kebbi and Bayelsa States for the first phase of the implementation.
“We are also ensuring credit access to 10 million MSMEs at a single-digit rate. In the implementation of this strategic pillar of the Federal Government to reduce the rate of unemployment in the country, the Ministry through the Bank of Industry (BOI) has disbursed N15 billion to 863 MSMEs businesses across several sectors.”
The Minister noted that the Ministry had actively expanded its collaboration with the private sector to create jobs for the Nigerian youths in fulfillment of the job creation objective of the government, adding that the initiatives are all geared towards Mr. President’s promise of taking 100 million Nigerians out of poverty within the next 10 years.
Earlier, Muyiwa Olumilua, the Ekiti State Commissioner for Trade and Industry, explained that the recent establishment of an industrial park in Otun-Ekiti was part of the programs of Kayode Fayemi’s Administration towards boosting the state’s economy, adding that the stakeholders must combine efforts in order to develop the MSMEs, which he said, are the backbone of any economy; the surest way to diversify the economy and emancipate the country from overdependence on revenue from crude oil.