The decision to prioritise support to the micro, small and medjum enterprises (MSMEs) was to empower them to contribute the rapid recovery of the economy from the devastation of COVID-19 pandemic, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has said.
Osinbajo spoke at the opening ceremony of the maiden edition of the National MSME Discourse on Thursday in Abuja.
Represented by the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investments, Niyi Adebayo, the VP said dedicating one full week to the intensive promotion of MSMEs in the country and highlight their needs was meant to further boost the potentials and achievements in the sector.
Apart from the priority attention given MSMEs in various ways, including holding of MSME Clinics across the country over the years, he said the Buhari administration dedicated one week to further build the profile of MSMEs and promote greater understanding of the sector.
During the week, the VP visited some MSMEs in Abuja and would attend the Annual MSMEs Awards ceremony on Sunday to commemorate the week.
“Given the priority attention the government gives to the MSME sector over the years, the Buhari administration has supported MSMEs in various ways, including through the MSME Clinics Initiative conducted through a partnership of relevant ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs).
“The MSME Week is the latest initiative in this regard. Over the past few years, we have held a National MSME Day in tandem with the World MSME Day as declared by the United Nations. However, in order to further build the profile of MSMEs and promote understanding of the sector, we decided to dedicate the whole of the week to promoting awareness about the achievements of our MSMEs and highlighting their needs,” Osinbajo said.
Osinbajo said on Monday he visited the DLK Signature Limited which produces footwears, bags, and clothing, and also operated like a privately run shared facility.
Also, he said he visited Roving Heights, an up coming independent bookshop that combines a physical with online presence in its trade.
“I was impressed by the vision, work ethos and organizational acumen of these outfits. But my purpose was to encourage them and all other businesses in the MSME space and signal that the Federal Government is committed to supporting their efforts every step of the way to help curb the pressires and devastation of COVID-19 on the economy.
“Other activities lined up for the MSME Week include an MSME Clinic in one of the States, an MSME National Discourse, a Fashion and Art Exhibition and National MSME Awards night,” he said.
Recalling the Federal Government’s interventions in the sector, the Vice President said the Clinics whixh have so far been held in 27 States of the Federation, was extended to encourage States to establish one-stop shops and ‘Shared Facilities’.
“The Buhari administration has also introduced a number of other schemes and initiatives aimed at supporting the operations of MSMEs.
“We have introduced arrangements in our development finance institutions to de-risk lending to MSMEs.
“Similarly, we have exempted small businesses with a turnover of less than N20million from tax, while those with a turnover of less than N100million now benefits from a one-third reduction in the corporate income tax rate from 30 percent to 20 percent.
“Equally notable is the support the Federal Government extended to small businesses in the context of COVID-19 through the Economic Sustainability Plan.
“Through the Payroll Support Programme, we were able to help businesses across various sectors to keep their employees.
“In the same vein, artisans and transporters got support from the Survival Fund to help overcome the negative impact of the pandemic on their livelihoods.
“In a similar vein are the MSME specific interventions in other ESP programmes, like the agriculture for food and jobs programme, the Family Homes Fund programme and the Solar Power Naija programme.
Citing the Family Homes Fund for example, the VP said the construction contracts with guaranteed off-take would be given to consortia of young professionals in the building sector, such as architects, engineers, quantity surveyors, builders, etc. to ensure they were productively engaged.
He commended the National MSMEs Secretariat for the initiative to hold a National Discourse on MSMEs on the theme: “Little Beginnings: Huge Impact”.
Describing the theme as apt, the VP said it “clearly underlines the potentials of the MSME sector, and also inspires hope, signals growth, and anticipates success.
Besides, he said it provided an important platform for stakeholders in the economy, particularly as it relates to the MSME sub-sector, to review, assess, take stock, and proffer solutions to the challenges facing micro, small and medium scale businesses in the country.
Urging participants to give further insights and focus on salient issues affecting small businesses, he said “it would be helpful to gain further insight into programmes that financial institutions have for MSMEs as well as suggestions on how to overcome the constant complaints by small businesses about the costs of doing business in the country.
Other dignitaries at the event included the Minister of State Industry, Trade and Investment, Mariam Katagum; the Managing Director of the Bank of Industry, Kayode Pitan; the Executive Director of the Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC), Segun Awolowo; the Director-General of the Industrial Training Fund (ITF), Joseph Ari; the Managing Director of Development Bank of Nigeria (DBN), Tony Okpanachi, and representatives of Access Bank, NEXIM Bank, FIRS, NAFDAC, SMEDAN, SON, among others.