The Delta State Government, in conjunction with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), recently disbursed N500 million to Micro, Small and Medium Scale Enterprises (MSMEs) in the state. The distribution of the loans to the beneficiaries followed the success of Governor EmÂmanuel Uduaghanâ€™s administration in securing the funds under the national special purpose facility instituted by CBN to empower poor and struggling entrepreneurs in the country.
It is one of the development-orientÂed programmes of the CBN aimed at assisting the poor with capital to establish MSMEs and lend wings to credible entrepreneurship ideas. It gives real muscle to entrepreneurial efforts, and aims at the ultimate realisation of the economic potentials of individuals. The CBN sets standards, which each state of the Federation must meet, to qualify to access the loans. Unfortunately, very few states have been able to meet the standards required to benefit from the facility.
In that regard, the Delta State government and its Micro, Small and Medium Scale Enterprises Development Agency led by Dr. Mrs. Antonia Ashiedu, deserve commendation for the hard work and diligence that made the state meet the rigorous standards of the CBN. It is a demonstration of what a motivated leadership can accomplish when it sets its mind on organising poor, small scale operators and helping them to access badly needed credit to improve their small businesses.
Indeed, the experiences of some of the past beneficiaries of the loan that were recounted at the ceremony are inspirational. In 2007, when the scheme began, many participants who took the N10,000 loans have since grown to ask for and receive N500,000 loans.
A remarkable thing about this scheme is that it is funded by the CBN at 9 per cent interest rate per annum, which is well below the exÂtant interbank rate. But then, the Delta State Government has decidÂed to pay the interest on the loan for all beneficiaries, at the cost of N180 million. Thus, the beneficiaries of the credit scheme will only pay the actual sum taken with no interest. This is a great initiative by the state government at a time that commerÂcial bank loans attract interest as high as 23 per cent.
The exhibition of the end products of the various enterprises shows that the products are truly original and of primary importance to the Delta people. General purpose articles like beads, clothing, hats and jewelry were on display, in addition to all kinds of farm products such as yams, tomatoes and fish. These are everyÂday products whose demand cannot be subject to the vagaries of the inÂternational oil market.
The event is appropriately timed. It drew urgent attention to the Delta State Government-inspired programme, â€œDelta Beyond Oilâ€, at a time the international oil market is reminding the country that oil and the revenue that flows from it will not last forever. The decline in oil prices signals the nationâ€™s need to have other sources of funds for deÂvelopment.
It is sometimes forgotten that beÂsides being the countryâ€™s ultimate banker and the controller of inflaÂtion and monetary policies, the CBN has as part of its functions the deÂsigning of policies to create employÂment, which involves poverty alleviation. We commend the CBN for this scheme, and for using the opportunity of the event at Asaba to remind Nigerians that it has the will and the resources to help Nigerians in dire need of credit.
We understand the anxiety of the CBN about the recoverability of this credit facility, which probably inÂforms the strict terms for accessing it. At the same time, we urge the bank to do whatever is necessary to enable more Nigerians benefit from it. Other state governments should quit paying lip service to poverty alleviation and get down to doing the real hard work of motivating and orÂganising the poor in their states to access this credit scheme.
We remind the beneficiaries to maintain the trust that the state government and the CBN have reposed in them by not only repaying these loans as due, but by paying even earlier than scheduled. This will do two things. It will strengthen the beneficiariesâ€™ credit rating to receive even bigger sums. It will also encourage the bank to have greater confidence in the scheme. This will ultimately justify an enlargement of the scheme, thereby giving more Nigerians the opportunity to benefit from it.
source: Daily Sun