June 18, 2009

FG moves to peg interest rate at 5%

By Funmi Komolafe in Geneva
GENEVA—In its bid to create more job opportunities and expand existing ones, the Federal Government is to compel banks to fund the real sector and reduce interest rate for manufacturers to five per cent.

Also, a high-powered multi- disciplinary employment mission of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) is to visit Nigeria soon to complement our efforts in the implementation of the new National Employment Policy.

Government also intends to create an employment fund to boost its job creation efforts. In addition, government is to emphasise skill training to make more Nigerians employable.

Labour Minister, Prince Adetokunbo Kayode, speaking to journalists at the on-going 98th International Labour Conference in Geneva said, “it is time for government to wield the big stick. Banks must fund the factories, the real sector. Manufacturers should not have to pay more than five per cent interest rate.”

He added: “We need to create jobs in NIgeria. We need to keep our people working. It must be our motto — Keep Nigeria working. We have lost about 25 years of skill opportunities, about 25 years of production; we need to recreate that.”

The minister said Nigeria was the first country to organise a national employment summit and this was appreciated by the ILO. “In a way, we’ve been catalytical to the outcome of this summit and of course this conference”.

He disclosed that ILO is also sending a technical team to support us “on what we have to do to implement the employment plan to generate more employment.”

However, he said “the most important thing is to be able to convince government to budget more money from 2010 onwards.”

From the ILO, the minister said, “We expect them to support us with the Global Jobs Fund but we must show that we are able to fund our activities. Government also has a duty to establish a national employment fund”. On his part, he said he would ensure that government establishes the national employment fund.

He said with Nigeria’s participation at the ILC, the federal government has committed itself to job creation.

It is also committed to social security to provide a social safety net which he said Nigeria has had before the global financial crisis. Such safety nets are the reform of the pension system, the national health insurance scheme etc.

The minister who is attending the ILC for the first time will present his address today.