By Ikenna Uwadileke
Abuja, April 14, 2020 (NAN) The Nigerian Association of Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) on Tuesday urged the Federal Government to set up mechanism to ensure SMEs had easy access to the N50 billion COVID-19 intervention fund.
Mr Auwal Bununu, Zonal Vice President (North Central) of the association made the call in a telephone interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN).
NAN reports that the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) introduced the N50 billion targeted credit facility as a stimulus package to support households and micro, small and medium enterprises affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The apex bank stated that the eligible participating financial institution for the scheme was NIRSAL Microfinance Bank.
It added that the loan amount would be determined based on the activity, cashflow and industry/segment size of beneficiary, subject to a maximum of N25 million for SMEs and a maximum of N3 million for households.
While commending the federal government for the intervention fund, Bununu emphasised that easy access to the fund by SMEs would maintain manufacturing and supply of essential commodities during the pandemic.
“This is essential to ensure that supply of essential commodities are maintained,’’ he said.
According to him, the condition of assessing the money whereby CBN will transfer all the risk to commercial banks to deliver it to the beneficiaries is going to be very difficult for businesses to access.
“Instead, we want government to partner with the organised private sector in such a way that there will be a complete value chain packages for SMEs.
“This includes market access so that there will be skill acquisition for improvement of quality and standard of the services.
“Government should bring in the organised private sector; Manufacturers Association of Nigeria, National Association of Chamber of Commerce and Nigerian Association of Small and Medium Enterprises to work with CBN.
“Then they will work on the market access to ensure improved quality and standard and some other infrastructure as well as access to affordable energy.
“This can be done in such a way that it will be less risky instead of transferring it to commercial banks to administer. With that there is going to be minimum risk whereby the loan will be administered and recovered speedily,’’ Bununu said.
He further urged the federal government to increase the COVID-19 intervention fund from N50 billion to 1 billion dollar.
“The central bank has put up this intervention fund and our call is that the federal government should increase the intervention fund for SMEs to 1 billion dollars,’’ Bununu said.