By Bernard Tolani Dada
Akwa Ibom State government has lauded the Central bank of Nigeria (CBN) for initiating the micro small and medium enterprises (msme) credit scheme for sustainable entrepreneurial development in the country, noting that this would boost productivity and output, as well as impact positively on the economy of the state and the country in general
The State Commissioner for Finance, Mr. Nsikan Nkan made the commendation in Uyo, when he played host to a team from the Development Finance Department of the Central Bank Nigeria, Abuja, who were on a fact-finding visit to ascertain how the MSME credit program was faring in the State.
Acknowledging the critical role of SME to the growth and development of any economy with great potentials, the Commissioner appreciated the apex bank for enhancing inclusive access to credit facilities which he said has bridged the huge financing gap in the SME sub-sector, and used the medium to call on other corporate organizations to emulate the gesture.
The Commissioner asserted that implementation of the CBN N2 Billion loan policy is fully on course, assuring that State government was working closely with the drivers of the scheme, the partnering Micro Finance Banks, (MFI) in the state to ensure that the funds are not only disbursed to targeted people and used judiciously, but also recovered on time, in line with the CBN stipulated guidelines.
Mr. Nkan thanked the team for the visit, saying that this would reawaken beneficiary’s consciousness to the reality that the money was a loan that must be paid back and not a gift from the state government. This, he said has always been the position of the Akwa Ibom state government.
The leader of the CBN delegation, Mr. Eleanor Ihua, said they were in the State to appraise the implementation rate of the MSME credit scheme, and if necessary, make recommendations towards improving the loan disbursement and recovery processes.
Mr. Ihua expressed satisfaction with the progress report made by the State so far, adding that the scheme was achieving its objectives of giving succor to indigenous entrepreneurs especially the disadvantaged in the grassroots, assuring of CBN’s readiness to strengthen its partnership with Akwa Ibom government.
While commending the Micro Finance banks for their diligence, Mr. Eleanor Ihua reiterated the need to ensure beneficiaries repay the loan on time, in line with terms and conditions ,and tasked MFIs to strengthen their recovery machineries.
He added that paying back the principal sum to CBN would earn Akwa Ibom state eligibility to access more funds from the apex bank to sustain the msme scheme in the State and to increase the number of people to access of the revolving loan .
The Permanent Secretary in the Ministry, Mrs. Eme-ete Imuk spoke glowingly on the benefits of the intervention scheme which she said has gone a long way to empower indigenes of the state especially the women, improving their living standards, and thanked CBN for partnering the state to revamp the economic.
Some of the executive officers of the micro finance banks appreciated CBN for adding value to the State’s economy.
They pointed out that the scheme is well structured in Akwa Ibom state with each MFI assigned designated local government areas, and that state government had put in place a reliable recovery system, whereby beneficiaries are guaranteed by civil servants to address the risk of default.
Akwa Ibom state was among the first few states in Nigeria qualified to access the 2 billion micro credit facility launched by CBN in 2015 for the development of micro small and medium enterprises.
Thousands of individuals and co-operative societies in the 31 LGAs in the State have so far benefited from the scheme, while Akwa Ibom government had paid off the loan interest for all beneficiaries.
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