The federal government has rolled out the last component of the Survival Fund programme known as the Guaranteed Off-take Scheme (GOS).
The government said the purpose of the GOS is to stimulate direct local production by enabling 100,000 MSMEs in the production sector with funds to produce ‘post-COVID lockdown’ off-take products.
These products include face masks, hand sanitisers, liquid soap, disinfectants and processed foods such as garri, palm oil, groundnut oil, and spices.
Minister of State, Industry, trade and investment, Maryam Katagum, at a briefing yesterday in Abuja, while observing that the COVID-19 pandemic caused a drop in demand for corporate and household products and commodities in the country, said the scheme is giving preference to products produced in reasonably sufficient volumes in each state which have proven propensity to create jobs and have a multiplier effect on the surrounding economy.
Katagum disclosed that out of the initial target of 100,000 MSMEs across the country, the government received 65,976 applications across the country by the time the portal closed out of which it verified and pre-qualified 50,032 MSMEs that are presently being processed to off-take their products.
She added that potential beneficiaries in the 36 states and FCT were invited to apply via the Survival Fund Portal and applications were verified in line with the project’s approved criteria such as Nigerian citizenship; registration in Nigeria, with the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC); verifiable BVN of the business owner; staff of no less than three persons
The minister explained that the government has successfully carried out a mapping of products produced in sufficient quantities in each state of the federation and the FCT, adding that at the end of the off-take process, items procured would be handed over to the state governments for onward distribution to schools, hospitals, NGOs, as well as other public and private institutions each state government may wish to consider as beneficiaries
On issues that slowed down the commencement of the GOS, the minister explained that “In the first instance, there was the obvious need to review the other tracks of the MSME Survival Fund to enable us to address the challenges in implementation, particularly the issue of failed payments and balancing value and equity among states. “There was also the need to ensure that every state government considered as key stakeholders in the GOS are fully integrated and understand their roles.
“Another factor that slightly delayed the take-off of the GOS was the determination of the steering committee to ensure that all due process is followed with the Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP).
“Furthermore, we needed to ensure that all logistics are put in place as close to each of the over 50,000 beneficiaries as possible. This obviously made a huge demand on resources but it was a factor that was considered a high priority to achieving the objectives of the GOS.”
She also explained that the balance of funds from GOS would be re-purposed and applied to other tracks where there are high numbers of applicants on the waiting list.
“Again, this will be applied in a very equitable manner among the states,” she said, adding that the Project Delivery Office (PDO) is working with the Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency of Nigeria (SMEDAN), Bank of Industry (BoI) and Industrial Development Fund (ITF) in the implementation of the scheme.