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FG To Establish Agro-Processing Zone In Each Senatorial District

The Federal Government through the Federal Ministry of Industry Trade and Investment is set to establish an Agro-processing zone in each senatorial district of the Federation.

Ambassador Mariam Katagum, Minister of State, Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment, stated this at this year’s Commerce and Industry Correspondents Association of Nigeria (CICAN) Annual Conference in Abuja.

Katagum revealed that the ministry had concluded arrangements to facilitate the development of one Agro-processing zone in each senatorial district of the Federation, adding that under the 2021/2022 budget, the Ministry would roll out the development of Agro-processing in each geo-political zone under the first phase of the scheme.

Meanwhile, the minister has said the Federal Government has so far disbursed N58billion in the implementation of the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises(MSMEs) Survival Fund across four of its five tracks namely Payroll Support Scheme, Artisan and Transport Scheme, Formalization Support Scheme and General MSME Grants.

Addressing journalists at the conference with the theme: “The Role of Nigeria’s MSMEs, Export, Commodities, Trade & Investment in stabilising the Post Covid-19 Economy: Issues & Challenges,” Katagum
said the present administration was strategically repositioning MSMEs landscape towards achieving its full potentials with a view to contributing more to the economy.

According to her, “The Nigeria Economic Sustainability Plan(NESP) was approved by the Federal Executive Council (FEC) on July 1st, 2020, following its initiation by the Economic Sustainability Committee (ESC) constituted by His Excellency, President Muhammadu Buhari on March 30, 2020.

“As I have previously briefed you, during our regular press briefings, the implementation of the N75 billion MSME Survival Fund across four of its five tracks i.e Payroll Support Scheme, Artisan and Transport Scheme, Formalisation Support Scheme and General MSME Grants have yielded positive results that are verifiable and measurable.

“To date, 459,000 beneficiaries, under the Payroll Support have received between N90,000 – N150,000 (representing three months salary).

“For the Artisans and Transport tracks, 293,000 have benefited from one-off grants of N30,000 each while 82,000 businesses have received N50,000 one-off grants under the MSME Grants.

“Under the Formalisation Scheme, 244,000 new businesses have been registered by the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC). Approximately N58 billion has so far been disbursed directly to the above beneficiaries.”

On Guaranteed Off-take Scheme, which is the fifth track of the MSME Survival Fund Scheme, she explained that the track had successfully taken off with 37,018 beneficiaries delivering various products ranging from foodstuff to basic household materials and over N1.1billion has been disbursed, being the 30% mobilisation in respect of the delivery of products as of 24th September, 2021.

She said under the Nigeria Economic Sustainability Plan (NESP), another N50 billion was allocated to the Export Expansion Fund/Grant under the Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC)

As part of measures to promote MSMEs in Nigeria, Katagum said the Federal Government has, overtime, created platforms to improve access to finance for MSMEs in order to boost production, increase the value of trade, enhance the investment climate, foster innovation and entrepreneurship.

“This is in addition to the deliberate and pragmatic policies geared towards supporting and sustaining small businesses in the country, thereby equipping entrepreneurs to compete globally, especially under the Africa Continental Free Trade Area Agreement (AfCFTA).

“These initiatives also take into account the importance of digital technology in promoting enterprises and sustainable industrialisation for economic growth.

“Furthermore, in a bid to guarantee continuity in support of MSMEs in the country, the Federal Government harnessed the prime policies of the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) and the National Enterprise Development Programme (NEDEP) into the Nigeria Economic Sustainability Plan (NESP), in order to sustainably create an enabling environment for businesses to thrive.

“These policies are aimed at boosting productivity levels of businesses in the country, thereby accelerating the growth of the domestic market and creating profitable connections to regional, continental and global markets,” she explained.

Other pro-MSMEs interventions by the Federal Government, according to her, include “the recent approval of the revised National Policy on MSMEs, the planned floating of an MSME Micro Finance Bank by the Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency of Nigeria (SMEDAN), and government’s emphasis on single digit interest credit facility for MSMEs.

“There is also the recent Federal Executive Council (FEC) approval of the National Quality Policy, which aims at ensuring the quality of goods and services.

“At the recent Presidential Retreat for Ministers, Mr. President underscored the importance of MSMEs as engines of economic growth and pledged that government will do everything possible to support MSMEs, including removing all bottlenecks to MSME’s access to finance.

“Just yesterday, Mr. President inaugurated the National Council on Monitoring and Evaluation of Executive Order 005 on local content which will, among others, be a game changer for MSMEs.”

In his welcome remarks, Mr. Frederick Idehai, Chairman of CICAN, Abuja, cautioned the government to guard against making Nigeria a dumping ground for products and services in the implementation of AfCFTA.

Idehai also called for robust collaboration between CICAN members and several agencies under the supervision of the Federal Ministry of Industry Trade and Investment for effective coverage of economic issues to engender national development.

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