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Economy, SME

Some economists on Tuesday in Lagos urged the Federal Government to focus more attention on Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) as they remained the “engine behind most countries’ growth’’.

The experts who made the call in separate interviews with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) said that MSMEs required more attention as they are the largest employers of labour when put together.

The Chief Executive Officer of a finance company, Mr Ayotunde Bally, said that the major sector that needed fillip was the MSMEs.

“Looking at the current situation in Nigeria, it is a fact that so many sectors need a lot of financial aid to boost our economy.

“However, the major sector that needs more assistance to drive the economy to greater heights is the Medium and Small Scale Enterprises.

“This can be seen in last year’s GDP where MSMEs recorded 96 per cent of employment rate and 84 per cent of businesses in Nigeria. They need more hands to eliminate unemployment in Nigeria,’’ he said.

Bally added that Small and Medium Scale Enterprises in particular needed to be properly funded as they are mostly owned by youths.

Youths, he said, are innovative, creative and have modern high tech ideas that could fast-pace national development.

He said that the lack of raw materials, inadequate capital to fund projects were some of the major challenges of most SMEs.

He suggested that more input of financial resources to this sector would eliminate the major barrier and lead to a favourable economy.

In the same vein Mr Johnson Chukwu, managing director of an asset management company, urged government to support SMEs to take the economy out of recession.

“If government is able to support and focus more on SMEs they’d remain in business and the economy would exit recession.

“It is a good thing that government has already come up with a N75 billion Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) Survival Fund that will enable SMEs to meet their salary payment obligations so that they can succeed,’’ he said.

Prof. Ndubisi Nwokoma, Director, Centre for Economic Policy Analysis and Research of the University of Lagos, also advised government to aggressively support SMEs.

“The Small and Medium Enterprises sector should be aggressively supported by government this year.

“It is a reliable source of economic growth, poverty alleviation and job creation,’’ he said.

Prof. Sheriffdeen Tella, a professor of Economics at Olabisi Onabanjo University, Ago-Iwoye, Ogun, however, urged government to focus on six key areas to improve productivity and income this year.

“Key areas the government should give priority in the new year are industrial growth, particularly consumers goods production, food and cash crops, infrastructures, particularly electricity and roads, education and healthcare to improve productivity and income,’’ he said.

He advised that these could be done through government interventions such as bank credits at low interest, tax holiday for industries; input subsidy for agriculture, particularly in free land clearing.

Tella said that other ways could be through free, improved seeds and subsidised fertiliser for farmers and implementation of minimum wage policy to improve consumers spending power.

(NAN)

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Economy, Government

…minister praises Makinde for delivering on promise

The Oyo State Government, on Tuesday, handed over two hectares of land to the Federal Government for use as International Gemstone Market.

The Oyo State Commissioner for Energy and Mineral Resources, Barrister Temilolu ‘Seun Ashamu, who performed the handing over, said Governor Seyi Makinde remained committed towards the diversification of the state’s economy through the development of the solid mineral resources sector.

He gave the commitment while speaking during the formal handover of the two-hectare Gemstone Market site located at Ojoo area of Ibadan, to the Federal Government.

A statement by the Chief Press Secretary to the governor, Mr. Taiwo Adisa, indicated that the commissioner, who was with the Executive Chairman of the Oyo State Solid Mineral Development Agency, Mr. Abiodun Oni, handed the Gemstone Market site to the Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Arc. Olamilekan Adegbite.

The commissioner stated that the siting of the market was part of the agreement reached with the Federal Government, explaining that, on completion, it will enhance the development of the solid mineral sector and increase the Internally Generated Revenue, IGR, of the state.

In his remark, Oni equally explained that the Gemstone Market will boost the IGR of Oyo State and create more employment opportunities for the residents of the state, saying: “This is our own part of equity, because we are part and parcel of this project.”

While speaking, Ashamu said: “If you recall, His Excellency, Governor Seyi Makinde, has always maintained that he wants to diversify the economy of Oyo State and that mineral resources is going to play a significant role in increasing of our IGR and the diversification of the economy.

“So, under the chairmanship of the Solid Mineral Development Agency, as well as the Ministry for Energy and Mineral Resources, we have been able to reach agreement with the Federal Government to partner and set up a gemstone market here in Oyo State.

“And what we are here to do today is to formally handover the land so that development can commence in earnest. The land is about two hectares.”

In his response, the Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Arc. Adegbite, commended the Oyo State governor for delivering on his promise to give the hectares of land for the gemstone market.

He said the initiative was part of the post-COVID-19 palliative for the mines and steel development sector in six regions of the country, adding that the market will promote gemstone trading within the region.

“Your governor has promised us and he has delivered. The governor of Oyo State has been very gracious. He promised to do this and he has delivered this morning. We have the land now and we can begin to do what is necessary. We need to do the architecture planning and construction of the market.

“This is an initiative of President Muhammadu Buhari. It is part of the post-COVID-19 palliative that is being done in the mines and steel development sector. It is to develop the activity in the sector within the six regions of the country. For the South-West region, we chose to promote gemstone trading, which is already in Ibadan in an informal market at Ojoo.

“The whole idea is to formalise it as an international market and, of course, enhance the trade that goes on there and the benefits that will accrue to the federal, state, and local governments. We sought the support of the Oyo State Government to make things smooth, that is, to give us land and that is what we are actualising today.”

Adegbite further explained that the market will spur activities for people, enhance commerce and, at the same time, improve the local economy and generate revenue for the government at the national and sub-national levels.

“We have the fund, the rest is human capacity. We will try our best to finish this as soon as possible. The government has done its best by giving us money to do it,” the minister added.

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Economy, Government

The Federal Government of Nigeria and the Mota- Engil Group have signed the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on the construction of 1.959 billion dollars Kano-Maradi Standard Gauge Railway lines.

According to the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, in a statement by Eric Ojiekwe, Director Press and Public Relations of the Ministry, the project was aimed at linking the whole country by rail.

The Minister explained that the new railway corridor which is to be located in northern Nigeria will run through Kano, Jigawa and Katsina and through Niger Republic territory as far as Maradi.

He said other cities such as Danbatta, Kazaure, Daura, Mashi, Katsina and Jibiya would also be affected by the rail line in Nigeria.

The minister said the 283.750 kilometre rail line would help develope freight and passenger transport as it would be integrated with road transport.

He added that it would contribute greatly to the local economy as well as the nation’s social sector.

According to Amaechi, the duration for the project is 36 months and the contract type is Engineering, Procurement and Construction.

The signing ceremony was witnessed by the Ministry’s Permanent, Dr Magdalene Ajani, the Director, Legal Services, Pius Oteh, the Managing Director, Mota-Engil Group, Antonio Gvoea and Head of Legal, Mota- Engil Group, Cameron Beverley.

It was also witnessed by Magajin Garin Kano, Muhammad Wada, Director, Mota-Engil Group, Kola Abdulkarim, Vice President, Mota-Engil Group, Mohammed Abdul-Razaq, among others.

He added that the Nigerian Ambassador to Germany, Yusuf Tuggar and the Managing Director, Nigerian Ports Authority, Hadiza Bala-Usman among other diginitaries also witnessed the signing.

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