The Enugu Chamber of Commerce, Industries, Mines and Agriculture (ECCIMA) has called on the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to save indigenous businesses and the industrial sector from imminent collapse.
The President of the chamber, Mr Emeka Nwandu, made the call on Friday in Enugu during the CBN special day at the ongoing Enugu International Trade Fair.
Nwandu described a situation where businesses were left with no option than to seek bank facility with interest rates of 25 per cent to 30 per cent as worrisome.
He said that the prevailing situation had in no way helped in increasing the nation’s productive level, Gross Domestic Product and stability of the economy.
The president said that the chamber was worried that the creation of the NIRSAL Micro Finance Bank had not positively affected the productive sector due to slow disbursement of funds.
“We commend the CBN for ensuring availability of credit facilities to Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) by creating the NIRSAL Micro Finance Bank through, which loans are disbursed at five per cent interest rate.
“We are, however, worried that the process and level of disbursement have been very slow and low, especially since the second quarter of 2020.
“This slow pace of disbursement will not in any way support the objectives of the scheme,” he said.
Nwandu appealed to the CBN to ensure that qualified SME operators that applied for the loan got it in reasonable time.
The president said that CBN must find a way to save such businesses.
Responding, the acting Director, Corporate Communications Department of CBN, Mr Osita Nwanisobi, said that the apex bank created a N150bln Targeted Credit Facility for SMEs through the NIRSAL Micro Finance Bank.
Nwanisobi, however, said that the facility had since been doubled to about N300 billion in order to accommodate more beneficiaries and boost consumer expenditure.
He said that the bank in its bid to boost local manufacturing and production across the critical sectors of the economy established another N1 trillion facility in loans.
“Only a few weeks ago, we gave out the first batch of grants under the Health Sector Research and Development Intervention Scheme to five researchers in various medical fields,” he said.
He said that the grant was designed to trigger off intense national research and development activities to develop a Nigerian vaccine, drugs and herbal medicines against coronavirus and other diseases.
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