WorldStage Newsonline– Nigeria’s Minister of State for Trade and Investment, Hajiya Mariam Katagum and Mr Tola Johnson, Special Adviser to Vice President on Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) have said that small businesses will get relief from the National Economic Sustainability Plan (NESP).
The duo spoke with State House correspondents at the Presidential Villa after the 2020 National Micro Small and MSMEs Awards on Thursday in Abuja acknowledged that COVID-19 pandemic was impacting negatively on businesses in Nigeria and world over.
The NESP, developed by the Vice President Yemi Osinbajo-led Economic Sustainability Committee (ESC), was recently approved by the Federal Executive Council (FEC) to mitigate the economic fallout of COVID-19 pandemic.
Johnson said, “Actually, the vice president has mentioned some sort of palliative measures; particularly those that were just announced under the NESP.
“First of all, we have the guaranteed off-take, which is designed to support the MSMEs in terms of their production and there are some key are areas.
“About nine areas that have been identified and government will sort of take-off these items that are being produced and pay for them and get them delivered to various locations free of charge.
“Secondly, we have the issue of the payroll support; a lot of MSMEs, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, will begin to think of either laying off staff or reducing staff salary; so, there will some sort of support provided in that respect.’’
According to the minister, funds will be released through the Bank of Industry.
She expressed optimism that some of the initiatives would come on board soon as the president had already signed the 2020 budget.
The minister said that MSMEs in Nigeria had done well being a vast country with a lot of resources.
“As you can see from the award winners, all of them used local law materials; so the executive order on local content is getting a very good grade in the country; a lot of the MSMEs are run by young people; enterprising young people.
“You can see that all the things that we really need by day to day existence as a nation can and are being produced locally.’’
Katagum urged MSMEs that did not win or were not nominated to keep striving.
According to her, the government has put in place all the polices to improve the ease of doing business.
`We are also improving on access to credit and creating space; that is the vice president personally attends all these MSMEs Clinics and he personally goes from one exhibition stand to the other talking to them; asking them what the challenges are.
“If there are challenges that could be solved by the agencies that are there, the challenges are solved there and then; if they are challenges that we take up and as a matter of policy, come back and refine and listen to the people.
“That is what we do; we go back; look at the policies and then we try to make things easier for them.
“Of course also, the banks are there; like the Bank of Industry, DBN, Access Bank, JAIZ trying to give them credit at single digit and making sure that as many people as possible are able to access,’’ she said.
For his part, Johnson, who is also the Programme Director, National MSMEs Clinics and Awards, said that COVID-19 pandemic was impacting negatively on businesses in Nigeria and world over.
He said that over the world, businesses were shutting down amid uncertainties, adding that the NESP would provide succour to MSMEs
“ But what we can do as a nation is to try and mitigate against what the impact would be; that is why in the NESP, as approved by the President, has put in place some schemes that will immediately kick in to support MSMEs.
“The Guaranteed Off-take, the Survival Fund, that will help pay the salaries of staff of MSMEs, hotels, private schools, the creative industry.
“Once you are able to prove that you have a pay roll that is vetted as being true and sincere, you will be able to access a certain amount for your staff for three months.
“So, the Federal Government is doing what it can and what it should as a government to ensure that we cushion the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on MSMEs,’’ he said.
Johnson said that there had been policies aimed at creating an enabling environment for MSMEs to thrive.
Osinbajo, had earlier in a virtual address at the awards, said that there was a robust package for MSMEs in the NESP