COVID-19: Osinbajo lists support schemes for MSME survival

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has said the Federal Government, through the National Economic Sustainability Plan (NESP), is set to implement a number of schemes to keep Micro Small and Medium Enterprises(MSMEs) afloat.

The vice president listed Survival Fund including payroll support for three months, guaranteed off-take scheme among others as part of efforts to support small businesses in Nigeria to survive the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic,

Osinbajo’s spokesman, Laolu Akande, in a statement on Thursday in Abuja, said the vice president spoke at the 2020 edition of the Micro MSMEs Awards which held via video conference.

He said that locally, businesses were facing their most challenging time and the impact was particularly severe on MSMEs

“The central plank of our response as a government to the economic challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic has been the Economic Sustainability Plan recently approved by President Muhammadu Buhari and the Federal Executive Council.

“In that plan which essentially envisages an overall N2.3 trillion stimulus package, we made extensive provision for financial support to MSMEs, ranging from a guaranteed off-take scheme to a survival fund that includes a payroll support programme for qualifying businesses.

“The guaranteed off-take scheme seeks to provide support for MSMEs, manufacturing local products by guaranteeing the purchase from them of qualifying products such as face masks, hand sanitisers, Personal Protective Equipment(PPE) for medical workers among others

“These products will be distributed to Nigerians, Nigerian institutions and entities that would require them.

“The survival fund will help provide payroll support to MSMEs with a minimum of 10 and maximum of 50 staff. The MSMEs that qualify for these will make available their payroll for verification by government.

“Companies that meet the requirements will then be eligible to have the salaries of their verified staff paid directly from the fund for a period of three months.”

According to the vice president, the target beneficiaries of this scheme will include private schools, hotels, road transport workers, creative industries and others.

He said that the verification process would be very rigorous and painstaking.

Osinbajo added that N200 billion would be made available to MSMEs in the priority sectors such as healthcare, agro-processing, creative industries, local oil and gas, aviation among others.

“This will be granted through a scheme jointly run by the Bank of Industry and Nigerian Export-Import (NEXIM) Bank, especially for export expansion.

“The CBN is also committed to creating a N100 billion target credit facility for MSMEs.

“Already the recently signed Finance Act already made provision for graduated company income tax rates with zero rates for small companies and a rate reduction for medium-sized companies.”

The vice president said that the Federal Government would continue to implement similar focused MSME interventions around the country.

Osinbajo said that Kaduna state, for example, was working on a tomato paste production plant while Lagos was putting together a fashion hub.

He said that FCT was equally set to launch a carpentry cluster while Anambra state was almost ready to commission its leather works cluster.

“All of these are scheduled for 2020.

“In 2021, Edo, Ekiti, Katsina, Ogun, Bauchi and Enugu States would commission shared facilities that will bring MSMEs together by cluster and provide shared equipment and resources and business support hub.’’

He commended the participants at the awards for their ingenuity in starting up and sustaining their businesses, urging those who were not shortlisted not to relent in what they were doing.

Osinbajo also commended all those who had started businesses in Nigeria, no matter how small, describing them as champions.

“Every person who has taken it upon themselves to start a business in Nigeria no matter how small is a champion and we as a government owe it to you to create an enabling environment for you to thrive.

“This is President Buhari’s commitment to MSMEs in Nigeria, that we will continue to stand by you and to support you and to create opportunities for you to grow and prosper,” he said.

Adejoke Lasisi of Planet 3R Limited won the MSME of the Year Award while Kaduna State was awarded the Best MSME Clinic Support State.

The winners got cash and car prizes.

The event was attended by several state governors and their representatives, the FCT Minister Malam Muhammed Bello, the Minister of State, Trade and Investment, Amb Mariam Katagum, various heads of MDAS and captains of industry. (NAN)

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