Review your position on border closure, Entrepreneurs counsel FG

Written by Maritime First

The President of the Association of Micro Entrepreneurs of Nigeria (AMEN) Mr Saviour Iche, Monday in Lagos urged the Federal Government to reconsider its border closure policy for improved Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) Gross Domestic Product (GDP) contribution to the economy.

Iche said the nation’s current state of recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic and the #EndSARS protest was a clear indication for the government to reconsider its stand on the issue.

According to him, the reopening of the borders will result in the re-engagement of MSMEs which were shut down or suffered some setback due to their closure.

Iche noted with concern that many local manufacturers had relocated to neighbouring countries to maintain market space and remain competitive.

He said many Nigerian manufactured products had been duplicated in other countries due to the inability of those goods to pass through the land borders.

This development, he opined, was not beneficial to the Nigerian economy which was by all means seeking to stay afloat from the effects of the pandemic and the #EndSARS protests.

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“We have just started to come out of COVID-19 and the crisis resulting from the #EndSARS protests.

“The issue of ground improves the nation’s capacity at youth engagement employment by reviving the neglected SMEs.

“Before the pandemic and the lockdown, the Nigerian economy was in a shaky and bad state and after the lockdown, the government claimed that some money was released to support the SMEs,” he said.

He said that most of the SMEs had one loan facilities or the other they were servicing with the banks.

“And, as it stands, only about 15 per cent of our members have received financial intervention from the Economic Sustainability Plan funds.

“The border closure policy of the government also affected the SMEs so badly as most of the products in Nigeria go through the land border to the neighbouring countries.

“From our survey, about 38 per cent of SMEs have closed down with a few struggling to survive,” he said.

He lamented that local manufacturers had started relocating to other countries.

“I have a particular customer from Ghana, who comes to Nigeria and buys goods running into millions from me.

“They have learnt to develop the same product in Ghana and now we have lost customers,” he said.

The AMEN President also lauded the free 250, 000 business registration initiative by the government.

He, however, urged intensified efforts at creating a more friendly business environment by the provision of power, infrastructure and other social amenities to restore manufacturing performance.

Iche also advised the government to monitor the disbursement of its various intervention funds and palliatives aimed at supporting small businesses.

“Government has provided funds but these monies are not getting to the appropriate SMEs.

“As a president of an association and one also in contact with other associations, we did a joint press conference stating that we are yet to get the money.

“Government should have called a stakeholders’ meeting consisting of all business leaders for our suggestions on how to disburse the money,” he said.

He said the suggestion was that the money should have been given to the associations for disbursement because they know their members capacities.

Iche said that the money could also be given to commercial banks that had the SMEs operators’ database to ascertain the capacity, and verify the truthfulness of who is applying for what.

He said this would prevent avoidable cases of giving fund funds to fake entrepreneurs.

“The way we have ghost workers is also the same way we have ghost entrepreneurs,” he said


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Maritime First