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The Central Bank of Nigeria has expressed displeasure over the non-accessibility of the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) N220billion Development Fund by the operators.

Speaking at a workshop organised by the Bankers Committee on Funding Nigeria’s SMEs, Governor of CBN, Mr. Godwin Emefiele, who was represented by the Senior Manager, Development Finance Department, CBN, Mr. Chinedu Zephaniah, said out of the N220billion earmarked for SMEs, about N50 billion is still available for easy access.

He explained that the apex bank has about N3trillion intervention funds set aside for economic development, out of which N220billion is targeted at SMEs, adding that “at the moment, we have disbursed N170 billion to support SMEs, but the percentage of people that pay back their loans at the appropriate time is not encouraging.”

Zephaniah said when people pay back as at when due, it would avail others the opportunity to access the fund.

“To access the intervention fund of the CBN, all you need to do is to convince your bank that when you take, you will be able to pay back,” he added.

Responding, Head of Business Banking, Standard Charter Bank, Mr. Benjamin Dike, said: “as SMEs, if you collect money to create wealth and you refund the money as at when due, the confidence of lending institutions will be high and there will be tangible growth,” he advised.

Dike noted that the MSMEs sector is acknowledged globally as the oil that lubricates the engine of socio-economic transformation of any nation.

“The sector is strategically positioned to create up to 80 per cent jobs, improve per capital income and contribute significantly to Gross Domestic Product,” he said.

Although, several years after the launch of the intervention fund, MSMEs operators are lamenting their inability to access the fund. They noted that the process of accessing the loan is cumbersome.

President, Association of Small Business Owners, Mr Olufemi Egbesola, said his members had been unable to access the fund, despite deliberate efforts by his association to assist them in writing presentable proposals. He said that the slow disbursement of the loans had made most SME operators to lose confidence in the scheme.

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