COVID-19: MSMEs stakeholders seek easy access to palliatives

coronavirusStakeholders in the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) have called for better accessibility to palliatives by the Federal Government to sustain the sector during and after the coronavirus pandemic.

They spoke made the call in separate interviews with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos on Tuesday.

The stakeholders were responding to the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed’s briefing on Monday on fiscal stimulus measures in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Mr Solomon Aderoju, President, Nigerian Association of Small and Medium Enterprises (NASME) lauded the various efforts of government in the sector and suggested speedy implementation and accessibility to the various intervention measures to ensure sustainability.

Aderoju also called for more liberal loan terms and conditions, waivers on loan interests and tax payments, elongated loan payment duration during the pandemic to cushion the effects of losses.

“Government has started well by some protective measures with issue of moratorium and relief on interest payment.

“Some of which were on ground before the pandemic but we have not been able to access them due to the unfriendly conditions.

“They may mean well but the parastatals and agencies involved in the disbursement should also do their part by ensuring that these funds get to the business concerns as targeted by the government,” he said.

The NASME boss stressed the importance of the creation of market opportunities after the lockdown by government.

Dr Muda Yusuf, Director-General, Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) called for more stimulus in the areas of tax and import duty reliefs for investors across the sectors.

According to him, a cocktail of policy measures to cope with the current challenges is pertinent.

“The government has rolled out a number of palliatives for small businesses, especially around credit.

“There are promises of moratorium, restructuring of existing facilities, reduction in interest rates, among others are welcome developments.

“This situation calls for serious introspection on the management of public finances, cost of governance, revenue optimisation from revenue generating agencies, forex policies etc.

“We would also like to see demand side stimulus to create a market to drive production.

“There is need for some more stimulus in the area of tax and import duty reliefs for investors across the sectors,” Yusuf said.

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Dr Femi Egbesola, National President, Association of Small Business Owners of Nigeria (ASBON) spoke on the various intervention funds by the government.

Egbesola urged the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to quicken the process to enable business owners easy access to the funds.

He noted that the best time to release the funds was now particularly to critical sectors as food processing companies, agric sector and its value chain, health sector, pharmaceuticals and basic needs to survive the pandemic as a nation.

“The reality is that global and local economies are crashing due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“Palliatives are being promised by both Local, State and Federal Governments both to households and businesses but the honest truth is that nothing meaningful has been seen or received so far.

“The news is in the air; guidelines for application have been released; quite a number of Nigeria business owners have applied but we are yet to see anybody moving beyond the stage of application at the moment.

“We look forward to getting to the point of some businesses getting the fund as promised,” he said.

According to him, to make workable policies particularly for business owners, government must engage the stakeholders and ensure that such policies are modelled to accommodate local needs.

“They should also be accessible to those at the bottom of the pyramid.

“Most often than not, our policies are modelled in copy of the western world and are not applicable to our local work environment,” the ASBON boss said.


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