FG Sets Aside $1.3b For SMEs Financing
The Federal Government has set aside about $1.3 billion to support Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in the country. The fund will be managed by the Development Bank of Nigeria (DBN), the Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, has said.
Mrs. Adeosun, who spoke during a briefing with Nigerian reporters attending the International Monetary Fund (IMF)/World Bank Group meetings in Washington DC, yesterday, said SMEs are part of the engine that will spur the growth of the economy. She added that lending at low rates to SMEs will now be facilitated through the DBN.
According to her, agreement has already been “reached on the final steps for the take-off of the Development Bank which has been on hold due to some issues.
“We have resolved all those issues, the recruitment process has now been finalised with the management team now being put in place,” she said, adding that the “DBN is for SMEs and many of them are traders that don’t qualify for bank loans, such as facilitated by the Bank of Industry (BoI). The focus of DBN is SMEs and giving them low cost loans.”
Mrs. Adeosun said so far, the government has “been able to crowd in money to the tune of $1.3 billion from the World Bank, the African Development Bank (AfDB) and the European Investment Bank. We have made a lot of progress now and are ready to take off. We have advertised for the management positions and when appointed, they would be able to complement the work and build synergy with the CBN intervention. We need to get the money into the hands of smaller businesses that make up 50 per cent of our GDP.”
On illicit financial flows, she said the Nigerian delegation to this year’s IMF/World Bank meeting “has some high level discussions with a number of countries where we have Nigerian money domiciled; when we talk about illicit financial flows, there is a number of issues involved- those from corrupt practices, tax evasion, tax avoidance and those who under pay tax. But we are working hard to bring them back to the country.”
On Nigeria’s foreign loans, she said: “We are through with the AfDB and ready to go to the Eurobond. It is just to appoint the parties. It is particularly the issue of pricing, not the volume. We are going to look into how we can refinance some of our existing Naira debt into the international market to take advantage of the low international rates now. This would lessen the pressure on the domestic market. We have spoken with a lot of lenders and the market is really and very attractive now.”