By Victoria Ojeme
The Central Bank of Nigeria has been accused by the Abuja Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI) of stifling the growth of small and medium scale enterprises in the country as a result of its stringent rules for accessing the N220 billion Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) Development Fund.
Data from the Central Bank of Nigeria show that as at yesterday, the CBN has disbursed only N83 billion from the fund since it was launched on August 15, 2013 in recognition of the significant contributions of the MSME sub-sector to the economy and the existing huge financing gap.
Speaking at the International Women’s Month Seminar held in Abuja yesterday, the President of the Abuja Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI), Prince Adetokumbo Kayode, said the stringent conditions attached to the development fund has made it difficult for MSMEs to access the funds.
He said since he assumed office as the President of ACCI, none of his members have been able to access the fund.
The ACCI boss said the idea of routing development funds through commercial banks to fund SMEs is not working as they are not structured to give out long term intervention funds.
He said the difficulty associated with accessing government intervention fund made the ACCI to establish its cooperative society to aid its members with funds to grow their businesses.
The President of the Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (NACCIMA), Hajiya Saratu Iya Aliyu, commended the CBN for insisting that 60 per cent of the fund must be accessed by female entrepreneurs.
The NACCIMA boss, however, noted that the development fund is not enough for women and the CBN should put in place structured funding for women in business.
She said women are essential in growing Nigeria’s economy and they are not known for defaulting in loans.
[22/03, 17:09] Francis Daily Trust: How African nations handle the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) will determine the positive or negative impact on the individual and collective economies of the continent.
The Director of the Investment Department of the Ministry Of Industry, Trade and investment, Mrs Olukemi Arodudu, told participants at a forum “for attracting investment for rural development in Nigeria” held in Abuja yesterday that Nigeria must be innovative to use the African market to the country’s advantage.
“It is time for Nigeria to decide her own fate by determining her areas of comparative advantages, laying emphasis on them, and directing the incoming foreign direct investments in to them for the good of our people,” she said.
The expert said if Nigeria must reap maximum benefit from the African free market pact, the country must tackle the myriad of challenges of poverty, food security, threats to security of lives and property, unemployment and infrastructural decay amongst others, whichhas not only become compulsory, but also urgent.
The Ministry’s Permanent Secretary, Dr. Nasiru Sani Gwarzo, said in these times when Africa has decided to pull down some economic borders and become one large market, individual African nations need to be more strategic and deliberate in their economic policies. “Our neighbours are attracting investors, with the promise that they can produce in their countries and selling to Nigeria and they are offering diverse kinds of incentives to make that happen. To prevent Nigeria from becoming the dumping ground for goods and services produced in our sister African states, Nigeria has to be very deliberate and strategic henceforth, in her investment promotion and facilitation amongst others,” he said.
The Permanent Secretary said it is expedient for each state in the nation to come up with investment promotion strategies that will attract investment, boost internally generated revenue and help our SMEs to be competitive.