The FCT Minister, Malam Musa Muhammad, on Thursday, urged the Abuja Chamber of Commerce and Industry to partner with relevant government agencies on packaging and standardisation to boost Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs).
Muhammad made the call in Abuja at the opening ceremony of 2018 Abuja International Trade Fair with the theme, “Enhancing Small and Medium Enterprises (SME) in Agribusiness through Innovative Technology.”
“In Nigeria, we have lot of cashew, other countries will come and buy then repackaged it and bring it back to us to buy at very expensive price,” he said.
The Minister said that SME was the engine of growth and development in any country.
Muhammad advised the chamber to use the centre to generate funds, while congratulating them on the development going on in the chamber.
President of the chamber, Mr Adetokunbo Kayode, said that the chamber has restructured and that it was now operating through four centres.
Kayode said that the chamber has carried its business mission to Jordan, Ukraine, Cuba, Vietnam, South Korea, Gambia and Liberia.
He said that the chamber was committed to deepening commercial and economic activities within and outside the country.
Kayode said that the government policy towards SMEs has continued to bother the chamber.
According to him, SMEs are the main building blocks for critical development of any economy.
“We remain firm in our view that government has a duty to provide a clear and distinct policy for the growth and development of SMEs in Nigeria.
“This policy has never ever been designed or implemented.
“The most serious and debilitating is the issue of uncoordinated and disjointed multiple taxation in SMEs,” Kayode said.
He said that it was when SMEs grow and prosper, that jobs may be created and employment generated.
The chamber president said that another problem to be addressed was the funding mechanism for the SMEs.
According to him, it is not really the fund but the system, procedure or the mechanism for the implementation of the funding that should be addressed.
“The Federal Government through the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) made very substantial funds available for SMEs.
“How are those funds disbursed, mainly through the commercial banks. The commercial banks are not programmed to do long term funding, capital investment and they do short term quick return deals.
“So, why does the development funds continue to pass through commercial banks, where the essence and the aim of government is frustrated and thwarted, ” he said.
Kayode urged government to consider and agree to a special funding vehicle for SMEs through the organised private sector.
He said it was shocking that government at all levels had continued to take up to 10 to 15 per cent of part of loans granted to SMEs in the name of consent fees, stamp duties, title registration fees among others.
Kayode said that the banks also collect another 10 per cent or more through administrative charges and documentation costs.
“All this must stop in the interest of the economic development of the country,” he said.
He said that the 2018 trade fair recorded more than 70 per cent increase in the number of exhibitors compared to 2017.
National President of National Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture, Mrs Iyalode Lawson, said that the trade fair was the best place to network.
Lawson said that the theme underscores the importance of agriculture, saying that the sector was very important in any economy.
She said it was necessary for Nigeria to use technology to scale her activities, saying “technology innovations is key to agriculture,” Lawson said. (NAN).