BY EMMANUEL ELEBEKE
The federal government says it’s taking strategic steps to tackle the obstacles confronting the Small and Medium scale Enterprises, SMEs, in Nigeria to ensure the growth and survival of the sector.
Minister of Communication Technology, Mrs. Omobola Johnson, stated this at an SME Summit, a side event at the ongoing World Economic Forum holding in Abuja.
The event was meant to discuss mechanism for developing SMEs as catalysts for inclusive economic growth and job creation in Africa.
The minister identified inadequate infrastructure and power, multiple taxation and lack of awareness as part of the challenges facing the sector. She said her ministry is taking steps to address the hurdles facing the SMEs in the country.
According to her, the federal government had succeeded in convincing about six states of the federation on the need to encourage investors to increase infrastructure base in their states to create more internet access for SMEs. The states include Lagos, Anambra, Katsina, Osun, Cross River and Ondo states.
According to her, the ‘smart’ states are expected to witness huge investments from both local and foreign investors.
“We have succeeded in convincing Lagos, Anambra, Cross Rivers, Osun and Katsina States to clear all the hurdles facing investors in their states and they have promised to do everything possible to encourage them roll out infrastructure in the states. Some other states are not heeding to our advice probably because they feel that the only way they can get money is by taxing these investors but that will neither benefit them nor the SMEs,” she said.
Johnson argued that it was wrong for state governments to tax investors at the point of investment instead of taxing the output of their investments. The minister also said that efforts were being made to alleviate the difficulty being faced by SMEs in accessing loans from banks. According to her over 500 jobs had so far been created by the ministry through the interventions, out of which she said 95 per cent are homegrown.
On his part, Minister of Trade and Investment, Olusegun Aganga, said the most African countries are not taking full advantage of their agro produce before they are exported, which he said has negative effect on SMEs.