The Federal Government has assured a coalition of private-sector operators of a N65 billion-stimulus package that would assist them as they face the long-term effect of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment, which has been charged with this task, noted that some of these interventions include a N50 billion survival funds for Micro Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) and a N15 billion guaranteed uptake scheme to save 500,000 jobs, 40 per cent of which will be reserved for women-owned businesses.
The Minister of Industry, Trade, and Investment, Adeniyi Adebayo, told the Organised Private Sector (OPSN) at a virtual meeting recently that government was ready to assist them because of the role they play in the economy.
Meanwhile, the Bank of Industry (BOI) has said it is reviewing its strategic priorities to ensure continuous support for enterprises, especially those hard hit by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Specifically, it is deepening penetration in agro-processing, food processing, technology, healthcare and pharmaceuticals to stimulate economic recovery and growth.
The bank’s managing director, Kayode Pitan who disclosed this at a webinar on overcoming business challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, said it is an additional response to the significant changes in the global and local operating landscape. Soon after the outbreak of the pandemic, the bank responded with a number of measures to reduce the economic impact on customers.
Among them, the bank reduced interest on its direct line of credit by 2% for one year from April 1, 2020 to March 31, 2021; granted a three-month moratorium on principal repayment to all beneficiaries of the BOI Fund from April1, 2020 to June 31, 2020; with option to extend by up to 12 months for customers with proper justification on case by case basis.
For loans issued under the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) intervention programme and in line with a CBN directive, the bank reviewed interest rate downwards to 5% per annum, with a 3-month moratorium.
Also thee bank worked with the Nigerian Content Development Management Board (NCDMB) to reduce interest rates on credit facilities approved under the Nigerian Content Intervention Fund from 8% per annum to 6% per annum, including extension of the moratorium period.
On its part, the Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (NACCIMA), which participated in the meeting, said in a statement that the Minister affirmed that the private sector has an important role to play in the effort to restart the economy.
According to the Director-General of NACCIMA, Mr Ayoola Olukanni, the Minister further assured the OPSN of the FG’s readiness to work closely with the private sector.
He said parties welcomed the implementation of projects and programmes under the Economy Sustainability Plan, which was recently approved by the National Executive Council (NEC), adding that it would be in close cooperation with members of the OPSN.
The statement revealed that other issues discussed at the meeting included maritime port reforms; appropriate gas pricing; special economic zones and industrial clusters, as well as stable and regular power supply.
“The meeting agreed on a quarterly consultative meeting of the OPSN with the minister as part of strategies to work closely with the private sector for the implementation of appropriate policies across all sectors of the economy to ensure desired impact,” he added.
Also speaking at the meeting, Mrs Saratu Iya Aliyu thanked the minister for the opportunity given to the private sector to present its positions and requests, called for closer ties between the sector and the Ministry, especially as the country struggles to save and reboot the economy.