Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs Zainab Ahmed
Stakeholders have called on government at all levels to deepen their commitment to building resilience in the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises as the subsector was critical to the economic recovery of the country.
The stakeholders made this call at a national dialogue on the economic impact of COVID-19 and assessment of national, state recovery plans and policy options held in Abuja on Tuesday.
The programme was organised by Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit, a German development agency that facilitates financial assistance to Nigeria.
GIZ had noted that the growth of MSMEs, which currently provide for over 80 per cent of employment and 50 per cent of economic growth, had been constrained by inadequate framework as well as lack of access to financial services.
The Chief Consultant, GIZ, Robert Asogwa, stressed the need for governments at all levels to ensure that intervention programmes met the desired goal through effective monitoring.
According to him, most of the strategies and policies of the government have been centered on financing instruments such as tax waiver, tax deferment among others.
He, however, explained that these interventions may not yield the desired results as they were not structured under a long-term arrangement.
He said, “In as much as short term structural policies were critical to respond swiftly to the issues posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, long term policies are much more needed because these issues are not over.
“To ensure the success of these intervention programmes, we must continuously carry out assessment to know if they are addressing the gaps created by the pandemic.”
He explained that majority of small businesses only benefitted from loans disbursement and not grants, adding that this may become harmful to the businesses when the loans began to mature.
Also speaking at the event, the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, said the Federal Government had implemented various fiscal measures to balance both health and economic issues in addressing the burden of COVID-19 on MSMEs.
According to her, these measures include the establishment of a N500bn COVID-19 crisis intervention fund to finance the upgrade and improvement of healthcare facilities; and creation of a special public works programme to employ 774,000 people.