By Victor Akaa, Abuja
The Federal government has promised to address the two key burning issues bordering on funding and multiple taxation affecting the Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) to enable them perform maximally in the country.
The vice President of Nigeria, Prof. Yemi Osibanjo gave the assurance in the occasion of the 2019 Abuja international trade fair in Abuja.
Represented by the minister of state for Industry, Trade and Investment, Amb. Maryam Katagum, the VP said “issues of disbursement of funds and of course multiple taxation, I want to assure the President of Abuja Chambers of Commerce and Industry that we have heard the two key challenges which he has mentioned in his statement and we are going to work together with the Chambers of commerce to try and resolve these problems”.
Speaking on this year’s theme: “Remodeling SMEs Financing: Options and Solutions,” Osinbajo said government is committed to providing and strengthening support for Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in order to boost economy and create more jobs.
He also stressed the importance of SMEs and its effect on national development, adding that the event was an opportunity for entrepreneurs to network and establish linkages that will translate into improved Market access and investment partnership so as to bring about sustainable growth and economic development in Nigeria.
According to him, “It is essential to support small businesses to increase productivity, create more jobs and boost economy. This is why federal government is working with stakeholders across all sectors to ensure that SMEs have access to the support they need.”
Earlier in his welcome address, the President of Abuja Chambers of Commerce and Industry, Prince Adetokunbo Kayode said even though SMEs are the main building blocks for critical development of any economy, the category of businessmen continue to suffer untold hardships, lack of support and complicated and complex but hardly effective intervention funding mechanisms.
“The system of funding mechanism for the Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) is defective and this defect must be resolved expeditiously. At the last count, government has about 21 intervention funds with billions of Naira committed but very minimum impact either in terms of quantum or quality. Over the years, the federal government especially through the CBN have made very substantial funds available for SMEs. But the issues associated with the disbursement in terms of collateral, interest rates and short term nature have contributed forces to dwindle the marginal efforts to fund SMEs.
“Funding through the commercial banks has proved unproductive. The commercial banks are not programmed or structured to do long term funding or capital investment. They are into short term, quick return deals. So why do we continue to pass development funds through commercial banks, where experience has taught us that the essence and the aim of government is frustrated and or thwarted.”
He urged government to consider and agree to a special funding vehicle for SMEs through the OPS. “We prefer that Government embark on Finance Leasing, which provides for direct procurement of Capital Equipment (CAPEX) by funding agency to the SME and the provision of only Operational Expenses (OPEX) as against the prevailing instance where direct cash, where given become exposed to diversion into several other concerns,” he added.
Also speaking, the chief host of the occasion, the FCT Minister Alhaji Musa Bello said “investing especially in FCT and in small scale businesses will go in no small measure to improve development in the Federal Capital Territory ”.
Represented by the Minister of state, FCT Hajia Ramatu Tijjani, Minister therefore commended the purposeful leadership of Prince Kayode and appealed to both the residents and indigenes of FCT to queue into the programme, adding that the journey of nation building is a collective responsibility.