COVID-19: Nigeria launches N2.3trn Economic Sustainability Plan for small businesses





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By Victoria Ojeme

Federal Government has launched a N2.3 trillion stimulus package (also known as the Nigeria Economic Sustainability Plan, NESP) to support small businesses weather the impact of the pandemic.

The Minister of State for Industry, Trade and Investment, MariamYalwaji Kataggum disclosed this in Abuja at a press conference to flag-off the disbursement of the funds.

The Minister said the Economic Sustainability Plan was approved by the Federal Executive Council (FEC) on 24th June, 2020, following its initiation by the Economic Sustainability Committee (ESC), established by President Muhammadu Buhari on 30th March, 2020.

The Committee, which is chaired by the Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo, comprises several Ministers including the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment as well as the Group Managing Director of the NNPC and the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

The committee was mandated among other things to development of a plan that responds robustly and appropriately to the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic; identification of fiscal measures to enhance oil and non-oil government revenues and reduce non-essential spending; and the creation of a financial stimulus package for the Nigerian economy;

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The Minister said that in keeping to its promise to support businesses overcome challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Federal Government, is set to commence nationwide implementation of two MSME initiatives namely; the MSME Survival Fund and the Payroll Support schemes, as the first to be rolled out (N60 billion) and then, the Guaranteed Offtake Scheme (N15billion).

“Both schemes are at the core of the N2.3 trillion stimulus package (also known as the Nigeria Economic Sustainability Plan, NESP) being implemented by the Buhari Administration to help cushion the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic with a view to boosting the economy by saving existing jobs and creating new job opportunities,” she said.

To kick start the process of implementation, on 4th August 2020, the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Otunba Richard Adebayo, inaugurated a 10-man Steering Committee chaired by my humble self with membership drawn from the private and public sectors including the Vice Chairperson, Mrs. Ibukun Awosika, Chairperson of FirstBank.

“We also have the representative of the National Association of Small and Medium Enterprises (NASME). The Committee, in line with the objectives of the MSMEs component of the Nigerian Economic Sustainability Plan (NESP) has worked assiduously in the past couple of weeks to develop a workable template for the execution of the programme,” she said.

She said the fund is an important intervention designed to cushion the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic on MSMEs, especially the vulnerable micro and small businesses.

“Going by recent statistics released by SMEDAN and the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), over 95 percent of the 41 million MSMEs in Nigeria are micro businesses. Consequently, the nation cannot afford to neglect this huge segment of our economic landscape which contributes a very high percentage to employment and the GDP,” she said.

“It is in this regard, that the Nigeria Economic Sustainability Plan (NESP) has given high priority to the implementation of the MSMEs Survival Fund and the Guaranteed Off-take Schemes. The Survival Fund scheme is expected to commence immediately while the Guaranteed Offtake Scheme (GOS) will follow as soon as the proper modalities are put in place to meet current realities. The two schemes are targeted to impact about 1.7million entities and individual beneficiaries across the country,” she explained.

The MSME Survival Fund is a conditional grant to support vulnerable Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises in meeting their payroll obligations and safeguard jobs in MSMEs from the shock of the COVID-19 pandemic. The scheme is estimated to save nothing less than 1.3 million jobs across the country, while targeting an average of 35,000 individuals per state.

Vanguard

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