The Minister of State, Industry Trade and Investment, Ambassador Mariam Yelwa Katagun yesterday said at the national level of the COVID-19 disbursement programme, that there were deviant cases where Micro Small and Medium Enterprises were paid the initial mobilisation of 30 per cent for Guaranteed Offtake Scheme (GOS) and failed to supply some items, thereby negating the bond they signed with the government. These items are face masks, hand sanitisers, food items, and others.
The minister said despite mass text messages (SMS) sent at least three times to the defaulters and the opening of a dedicated account at Bank of Industry (BoI) for the refund of the initial sum, many of the said defaulters had failed to return the initial amount.
She noted that the Steering Committee has directed that appropriate agencies commence the process of recovering such money and, possibly, prosecute the defaulters as they have blocked the chances of other Micro Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) that would have benefited from the scheme.
Katagun spoke at the MSME Survival Fund and the Guaranteed Offtake Scheme (GOS) beneficiary’s town hall meeting in Abuja, stating that the GOS recorded a total of 37,024 beneficiary businesses out of the target of 100,000 beneficiaries, from Micro and Small businesses across the 36 states of the federation and the FCT.
Some of the items delivered have been handed over to the state governments and the FCT for onward distribution to schools, hospitals, NGOs, as well as other public and private institutions, even though a lot of the items were not delivered at the end of the day.
According to her, overall, the Fund has disbursed N66,000,020,000.00 directly to 1,258,183 beneficiaries (including those registered by CAC). “We have also reached 38 per cent females; and two per cent with special needs in the Northcentral Zone, comprising the following states: Benue, Kogi, Kwara, Nasarawa, Niger, Plateau, and the FCT.
Speaking on the occasion, the Special Assistant to the President on MSMEs and Project Coordinator MSMEs survival fund and GOS, Tola Johnson said the whole purpose was to save 500,000 jobs in MSMEs within the hospitality, education, manufacturing, food processing and Health sectors among others. A national lockdown introduced by the government to contain the spread of the disease Covid-19 adversely affected major supply chains across the country, and MSMEs were on the brink of massive employee layoffs due to a sharp decrease in income.