By Vincent Ujumadu
Awka—GOVERNOR Willie Obiano of Anambra State, yesterday, announced measures to cushion the effects of the current recession in the country on the people, with the immediate suspension of sale of emblems, collection of wheel barrow tax and hawkers permit in all parts of the state.
In a broadcast entitled ‘Rising from the brink,’ Obiano also abolished imposition of unapproved levies in primary and post primary schools in the state.
Similarly, the governor said his administration had lowered Okada and Keke levies to N50 and N200 daily respectively to cushion the effect of the recession.
He explained that following the formal announcement by the Federal Government that the nation’s economy had gone into a recession, he considered it a duty to distill the message of the economic situation of the country down to the grassroots.
He said: “I am happy to announce to you that I have come up with a stimulus package that will ease the pain of the recession and help our dear state bounce back to prosperity.
“I want to assure you that the government of Anambra State is fully aware of the difficulties you are going through in your families, in your businesses and in your various communities.
“I wish to assure you that you are not alone. I feel your pain. Our country’s painful journey into the current recession is fairly known to us.
“The events that triggered this decline are very well documented in the public domain. I wish to assure you that after a careful study of the situation,I am more convinced now than ever before that with our fundamentals, our infinite capacity to come back from deficits and our implicit faith in God, our story should be different in Anambra State.
“Consequently, our intervention which comes in four key areas which are tax relief programme, special intervention programmes for Small and Medium Enterprises, MSMEs and Large Enterprises, social intervention programme for low income households and intervention in infrastructure-for-jobs.
“The objective of the tax relief programme is to evaluate existing taxes, levies and fees in the state and introduce some waivers and in some cases, scrap the collection of some illegal levies imposed on our people to cushion the impact of the recession on households in the state.
“Next is the special intervention programme for Small and Medium Enterprises, MSMEs and large enterprises. This sector of the economy accounts for over 800,000 jobs in Anambra State today. These businesses are suffering from the acute drop in the supply of foreign exchange at the moment and are left with two options; scale down their operations or shut down completely.”
“My role as your governor is to envisage challenges and provide solutions that will ensure a speedy comeback from difficult situations that require the power and might of a state government.
“This is what my administration has done in the past two years through Anambra Small Business Agency. This agency is a very important institution I created to serve as a catalyst to our domestic economy. So far, ASBA has effectively distributed the sum of N1.5bn as start-up capital to many SMEs and MSMEs in Anambra State.
“ These funds are part of the N2bn that the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, made available to states about two years ago to help stimulate local entrepreneurship across the country.”
He said although it may not be known to many people, the truth is that the famous Anambra Rice owes its growth to the intervention through ASBA, adding that many manufacturers have also benefitted from the initiative.
According to him, arising from the highly visible success recorded by ASBA, government would carry out policies that would provide relief to the productive sectors and stimulate the domestic economy.
He added: “Following the visible success recorded by ASBA, government would provide it with a minimum of N3 billion to lend to SMEs and MSMEs at 9% interest rate across key sectors, as well as re-channel earlier accessed Bank of Industry, Bank of Agriculture and Commercial Agriculture Credit Scheme funds totalling to about N1.5 billion to support the sector.
“At the same time, we have since commenced consultations with the business community in the state and will soon hold an interactive session with the Awka, Nnewi and Onitsha Chambers of Commerce as well as the state chapter of the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN). This will enable us understand their most pressing needs in order to make a strong case on their behalf to the Presidency and other relevant authorities.”
Obiano said government would provide sum of N3.6 billion to fund the on-going N20 million ‘choose-your-project’ community program in all the 179 communities in the state, adding that each community has been allocated N20 million to spend on their most pressing concerns.
The projects, he added, would be executed by the community and strictly supervised by the state’s tenders’ board and the community members in line with best practice.
He said further: “We shall provide automatic employment to all graduates from universities in Anambra State that are living with disabilities into the State Civil Service. The aim of this initiative is to encourage all our brothers and sisters living with disabilities to embrace education as the key to a better life.
“We shall work closely with the United Nations Development Programme to provide training and empowerment programmes for the uneducated physically disabled members of our society.
“We shall intensify efforts to tap into the numerous social programs at the World Bank, such as Community Social and Development Programmes, Youth Employment and Social Support Operation and the Rural Access Mobility Programme.
“We have also aggressively keyed into all the social investment programmes available at the Federal Government, mainly the Home Grown School Feeding and the Conditional Cash Transfer Programmes. Working closely with the FG, we hope to commence these programmes in the next two months.”