By MBAKAAN KWEN,
The federal government has said it is determined to remove all hindrances against the smooth operation of Small and Medium Scale Enterprises in the country.
The acting President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo said this during the inauguration of a Pilot Edition of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) Clinic in Katsina yesterday.
He said the federal government initiated the clinic to bring together stakeholders and entrepreneurs with the aim of identifying their challenges and proffering solutions to them.
According to him, the clinic will go a long way in hastening rapid development of the SMEs in the country. Osinbajo said the government would continue to provide an enabling environment for the growth and development of SMEs.
He said government agencies responsible for the registration and provision of loan facilities to SMEs had been directed to further reduce the period spent in processing documents.
Osinbajo said the country had talented entrepreneurs that if given the necessary support would make Nigeria to become self-sufficient in the production of goods and services.
“We want to make Nigeria to become an exporter of foods and other goods, and not an importer. Nigeria has no business expanding huge resources to import rice that we can conveniently grow at home.
“We can grow everything that we eat as we have fertile land that is capable of producing all that we plant on it,’’ he said.
In his remarks, the director-general, Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency (SMEDAN), Dr Dikko Radda said the agency would continue to join hands with relevant agencies to boost economic activities in the country.
Radda commended the acting president for his commitment toward the conduct of the clinic in various parts of the country.
Meanwhile, Minister of Budget and National Planning, Senator Udoma Udo Udoma, has also said the federal government is committed to its youth empowerment programmes and it is considering adopting capacity to create jobs as one of the criteria for offering government contracts and assistance.
Senator Udoma, who gave the indication at a forum with members of the 25th Regular Course on Policy, Strategy and Leadership of the National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies (NIPSS) yesterday in Abuja said the federal government views the unemployment situation in the country with great concern and has made job creation one of the major objectives of the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP).
The minister said the plan aims to create jobs by developing labour-intensive sectors such as agriculture, manufacturing, housing and construction and is also launching a number of public works programmes as well as encouraging private-sector participation in the economy.
According to him, government is developing infrastructure in sectors with the capacity to create demand for labour and will sustain the N-Power programmes as well as continue to support small scale enterprises to maximize their potential for job creation.
According to him, there are other policies in place to encourage job creation including apprenticeship programme, supporting and patronising Made-in-Nigeria Initiative to encourage local manufacturing.
To further give impetus to the drive, he said government will give necessary support to institutions that focus on science, technology, engineering and mathematics as a veritable foundation for building a knowledge-based economy.
He pointed out that the bulk of the initiatives under job creation will prioritize youth as beneficiaries and this is being pursued through direct job creation by the federal government and those created in the informal and formal sectors by the private sector and skill-building programmes.
The minister emphasized that government will no longer give incentives to private investors on the basis of intentions but on the basis of results and the driving principles will among others be how many jobs will be created, how much value will be added to the economy, the quality of goods produced and how much foreign exchange they can generate.