By Merit Ibe
The Minister of State for Industry, Trade and Investment, Mariam Yalwaji Katagum has said the Federal Government is committed to improving access to finance for the Micro,Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) in the country.
The Minister stated this at this year’s Commerce and Industry Correspondents Association of Nigeria (CICAN) annual conference with the theme “The Role of Nigeria’s MSMEs, Export, Commodities, Trade & Investment in stabilising the Post COVID-19 Economy: Issues & Challenges,” which took place in Abuja.
The Minister, who was the special guest of honour at the event stated that “The Federal Government has, overtime, created platforms to improve access to finance for MSMEs to boost production, increase the value of trade, enhance the investment climate, foster innovation and entrepreneurship. This 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).”
Amb.Katagum further explained 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), to sustainably create an enabling environment for businesses to thrive. 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.
The Minister revealed that at the last presidential retreat for members of the Federal Executive Council, Mr. President underscored the importance of MSMEs as engine of economic growth and pledged that government would do everything possible to support MSMEs, including removing all bottlenecks to MSME’s access to finance.
She pointed out that President Muhammadu Buhari recently inaugurated the National Council on Monitoring and Evaluation of Executive Order 005 on local content which will, among others, be a game changer for MSMEs.
Katagum also stated other pro-MSME interventions by government, such as the recent approval of the revised National Policy on MSMEs, the planned floating of an MSME Micro Finance Bank by the Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency of Nigeria (SMEDAN), and government’s emphasis on single digit interest credit facility for MSMEs.
She attested to the steadfastness of the Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment, stating that the Ministry would continue to proactively engage Commodities Associations with a view to ensuring that challenges mitigating against their operations are tackled, especially now that we are gradually exiting the COVID-19 pandemic.
She stated “And in the same vein, the Federal Government, through the Federal Ministry of Industry Trade and Investment is expanding its network of collaboration with the state governments to provide the needed platform for attracting investments. In this regard, more states are encouraged and supported to organise investment summits in order to mobilise the investing public to consider Nigeria as a preferred destination.
The Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment, as part of its priority areas has concluded arrangements to facilitate the development of at least one Agro-processing zone in each senatorial district of the Federation. In that respect, under the 2021/2022 budget, the Ministry will roll out the development of Agro-Processing in each geopolitical zone under the first phase of the scheme.”