By Oluwafunke Ishola
Lagos – Coalition of Business Membership Organisation says that the inability of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) to access Federal Government’s intervention funds is threatening the growth and survival of businesses.
The Business Membership Organisations said this during a media briefing on Monday in Lagos.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the coalition comprises; National Association of Small Scale Industrialists (NASSI); National Association of Small and Medium Enterprises (NASME).
Others are Association of Micro Entrepreneurs of Nigeria (AMEN) and Association of Small Business Owner of Nigeria (ASBON).
Dr Femi Egbesola, National President ASBON, said that over 5000 members of the four associations in Lagos that applied for the Central Bank of Nigeria’s Agri-Business Small and Medium Enterprises Investment Scheme (AGSMEIS) were unable to access the fund.
Egbesola said that the members had fulfilled all the necessary requirements and undergone the prerequisite training, yet disbursements of the funds had been pending since approvals in December 2018.
“This is a demoralising experience, frustrating the growth of our businesses and threatening its survival,’’ he said.
The ASBON boss said that MSMEs inability to access the AGSMEIS fund makes them doubt government’s sincerity to assist the sector grow, adding that the fund was on the verge of failure like other intervention funds of government.
The associations said that the proposed Value Added Tax (VAT) increase from five per cent to 7.2 per cent was ill-timed, undesirable and contradicted government’s ease of doing business drive.
He emphasised that Nigeria had one of the highest poverty rates in the world, thus an increase in VAT would be a huge burden on its citizens.
Egbesola stressed that an increase in VAT would increase inflation rate, reduce consumption and slow down economic growth.
Also, Mr Segun Kuti-George, former President of NASSI, said that VAT increase would hurt MSMEs as it would increase the cost of doing business and lead to dearth of more businesses in the country.
Kuti-George said that government needs to create the enabling environment for MSMEs to thrive and boost economic growth, especially as the country had signed onto the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA).
Similarly, Mr Solomon Aderoju, Lagos State Chairman of NASME, said that the time was apt for government to give MSMEs the priority attention that would enable them reflate and diversify the economy for optimal growth.
“With over four million MSMEs in Lagos alone, imagine what we can achieve with the right environment and support from government,’’ he said.
Commenting, Saviour Iche, National President of AMEN, urged the government to emulate Ghana by granting tax holidays to MSMEs to assist them thrive and contribute more to the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP)
Mrs Gertrude Akhimien, Lagos State Chairman of NASSI, said that government should have a strategic plan for growing the MSME sector toward creating jobs, boosting liquidity, productivity and economic growth.
Akhimien urged government to rescind the proposed increase in VAT, strengthen compliance of present VAT rate, explore other avenues of revenue generation and plug fiscal leakages.