*As Osinbajo launches MSME Clinic in Onitsha
Stories by Yinka Kolawole
The Federal Government has pledged its continued support for the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) sector because of its significant contribution to the national economy.
The Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, made the pledge during the launch of the MSME Clinic in Onitsha, Anambra State, according to a statement made available to Vanguard by Laolu Akande, Senior Special Assistant to the Vice President on Media and Publicity.
Osinbajo stated: “As individual units, MSMEs may be small, but together they account for up to 50 percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and over 80 percent of the labour force. It therefore follows that they are of decisive importance in the national economy.
“MSMEs have tended to be neglected in this country over the years. This is partly as a result of competing priorities and a tendency to discount their contribution to the national economy.
“The MSME Clinics were conceived in this context and they are designed to bring the regulatory agencies whose work affects the business experience of MSMEs nearer to them. This will enable MSMEs to bring their business related problems to regulatory agencies for solution outside the formal and sometimes intimidating offices of these agencies. Of course, having all the agencies in one location at the same time saves MSMEs the travel time and cost of going to different agencies.
“MSME Clinics have also enabled regulatory agencies to gain a better understanding of the difficulties that MSMEs face and caused them to take steps to remedy the situation where required. For instance, several agencies have reduced the cost and timelines for service delivery to MSMEs. Since the launch of this programme last year, it has been easier for small businesses to access funds, because the Bank of Industry (BoI), Development Bank of Nigeria (DBN) and NEXIM Bank have used it to expose their products and increase their loans to MSMEs.
“NAFDAC has made it easier to do business, by reducing the cost and waiting time for product registration for small businesses. What used to take 8 months now takes 3 months. On its part, the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) now registers businesses within 48 hours and also carries out registration during the Clinics at reduced prices.”
The vice president said the idea is for regulatory agencies to be ‘extremely’ hands-on on business regulation in Nigeria, so small businesses can have the very best service from them, adding that “regulatory agencies must not be obstacles; they must be facilitators of business”.
“The Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC) and Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON) have both slashed their charges on various products and services, just to support small and medium enterprises.
“To foster continuity after the Clinics, at least five State governments have set up ‘One-Stop Shops’ that bring all the relevant agencies together in one place, so as to enable small businesses access their services on an on-going basis with relative ease,” he said.