Minister of State for Industry, Trade and Investment, Mrs. Mariam Katagum, disclosed on Tuesday that the Federal Government had received 38,000 applications for the N75 billion Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) survival funds.
Katagum made the disclosure in her opening remarks at a Business Advocacy Roundtable webinar by the Nigerian-British Chamber of Commerce (NBCC).
According to her, the applications were coming in barely one day after the registration portal for the fund was opened on Sept. 21.
The webinar was themed: “Economic Recovery beyond COVID-19”.
Katagum explained that the N75 billion survival funds would serve 1.7 million beneficiaries across the country.
She noted that the MSME survival funds with payroll support scheme for different sectors would start with educational institutions, followed by businesses in the hospitality industry and then small businesses.
She said that Kano had the highest number of applicants who had registered for the funds.
“The payroll would provide support between N30,000 and N50,000 for 500,000 vulnerable MSMEs to meet their obligations per employee over a duration of three months.
“A total of 250,000 new businesses will get free Corporate Affairs Commission business name registration,’’ the minister said.
According to her, 100,000 businesses affected by the pandemic will get N50,000 each and 330,000 artisans and transport business operators would get N30,000 to reduce the effect on loss of income.
“Already, we have received 33,000 applications by just opening the portal for registration yesterday and Kano has the highest number of applicants.
“As at this morning, we have received 38,000 applicants.’’
In his remarks, Mr. Shubham Chaudhari, World Bank Country Director for Nigeria, said the pandemic had put the nation at a very critical juncture.
Chaudhari advised the nation’s response to go beyond the immediate crisis to exploiting the various opportunities that abound going forward.
He praised the government’s bold steps by its various economic sustainability and recovery plans.
He urged robust implementation and follow through to ensure the country floats through the pandemic.
He also called for a level playing field for all private businesses (small and large) to thrive.
“Nigeria has the potential to be one of the world’s largest economies.
“On the economic front, the population of Nigeria is young and can withstand the pandemic.
“The pandemic has provided opportunities that can be harnessed even in crisis.
“We would continue to provide bilateral and multilateral support to ensure trade channels are opened,’’ Chaudhari said.
Also, Mr. Hamzat Subair, Executive Chairman, Lagos State Inland Revenue Service (LIRS) urged businesses to take advantage of current opportunities, which hitherto were not apparent.
Subair, represented by his Special Adviser, Tokunbo Akande said that Lagos had, during the pandemic, leveraged on technology to provide tax services to residents.
He urged business owners within the metropolis to take advantage of the state approved waivers and payments instalments plans suited to their business capabilities.
“Close to 80 per cent of business owners with access to telephone had access to tax services during the pandemic.
“Quite a number are also taking advantage of the various audits waivers, extended tax payments plans among other services the state is offering.
“We are also working on the multiplicity of tax interfaces to reduce the tax burdens on businesses in Lagos,’’ Subair said.