As more Nigerians and small businesses register for the recently launched Survival Fund Scheme of the federal government, vice president Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, has described progress recorded in the first three days of the registration of applicants as massive and impressive, reiterating the commitment of the Buhari administration to ensure effective implementation of all the schemes.
The Vice President, in a statement by his media aide, Laolu Akande, stated this on Friday, during a virtual interactive session by the Africa Report Magazine, which focused on Nigeria’s post pandemic recovery plan, also referred to as ‘Bouncing Back’.
Responding to a question on the implementation of the various schemes under the ESP for small and medium businesses, the Vice President said the response by Nigerians to the recently launched Survival Fund was massive, and assured that government remained committed to an effective implementation of the scheme.
More and more potential beneficiaries are going online to access the N60 billion Survival Fund whose registration started on Monday.
According to him: “A couple of days ago, the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment, launched the Survival Fund. The Fund includes a Payroll Support for about 500, 000 beneficiaries and the plan is to take qualifying businesses who have a minimum of 10 employees and pay salaries of those staff for three months.
“The portal was opened about three days ago and there has been massive response to it. Payroll Support is one important way that we intend to support small scale businesses. We are also giving grants to artisans and transporters, to support their businesses, and it will cover about 333,000 of such people in this category.”
Continuing, the Vice President said; “There is also a free business name registration that we are doing for 250,000 persons who wish to register their businesses.”
Referring specifically to the expected impact of the schemes on MSMEs, the Vice President said “we are looking at 1.3 million beneficiaries under the Survival Fund and under the artisans and transporters grants. Then we have a Guaranteed Off-take Scheme. Under this programme, basically, if you manufacture certain items and food products, we will buy them from you. Our target is about 300, 000 of such producers of foods. Both schemes will benefit about 1.7 million individuals and small businesses.”
Speaking further about the effective implementation of the schemes, the Vice President said measures are being put in place to ensure that the target beneficiaries are impacted positively.
In the implementation aspect of the programme, the VP said “we are trying to get everything going. The financing is not the immediate problem, the important thing is organizing the beneficiaries and ensuring that the support gets to them. It is more the nitty-gritty of ensuring that this money gets to those for whom it is meant.”
Responding to another set of questions about the agriculture component of the plan, the Vice President said the Agric programme is on course as 2 million farmers across the country have already been certified to benefit from the programme which aims to create jobs and guarantee food sufficiency.
“We are hoping that we can become a net exporter. At the moment we are the biggest producers of yam and cassava in the world. And through this Mass Agriculture programme, we hope to become a net exporter of some of the products that we are focused on.
“So, a key factor of the Mass Agriculture Programme is that there is guarantee off-take for farmers,” Prof. Osinbajo added.
On the housing component of the plan, the Vice President said the goal is to create opportunities for local builders, architects and other professionals and artisans in the building industry.
He said “we have a target of 300,000 housing units in this plan. It is a huge target but when you break it down, it means that each state will build something in the order of 8,300 or so housing units in each of the 36 states and that will come to under 400 houses in each Local Government Area. The whole idea is to engage young men and women who are builders, architects and all that, forming small companies that can take these housing units in lots.
“What we expect to happen and what we have planned is that in each site you would have block making going on, you would have door manufacturing, window manufacturing and all of that. In other words, we’re trying to ensure that local materials are used in the building of these houses.”
On the funding of the stimulus package, the Vice President said N500 billion is provided in the budget out of the N2.3 trillion while the balance is being mainly funded through structured loans from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).