By EMEKA OKOROANYAWU
The Federal Government, yesterday, said it would stimulate the economy through empowerment of micro enterprises and reduction of unemployment, with the establishment of the National Enterprise Development Programme (NEPED), an initiative of the Federal Ministry of Trade and Investment.
The programme, which is expected to create about five million jobs by the end of 2014, will be coordinated by Bank of Industry (BoI), Small and Medium Scale Enterprises Development Agency (SMEDAN) and the Industrial Training Fund (ITF). President Jonathan is expected to launch the Micro-Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) Council, very soon.
Nigeria is to spend about N10 billion annually for three years on NEPED, and funding would come from statutory allocations of the implementing agencies, including Subsidy Re-investment programme (SURE-P), Constituency Projects Funds of the National Assembly NASS, state and local governments, Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), International Development Partners, among other stakeholders.
Olusegun Aganga, who made the disclosure at the stakeholders meeting in Abuja yesterday, also said that out of the over 17 million enterprises in the country, 25,000 top enterprises with salable products have been picked and would be assisted with funding.
Aganga further said that already, commissioners responsible for this have been given presidential order to identify one product for which their various states have competitive and comparative advantage for exports and which also could earn foreign exchange for the country, adding that it would replicated at the local government level.
Besides, the office of Chief Economic Adviser and National Bureau of Statistics are presently working on coming out with credible data on economic indices so as to keep Nigerians abreast of progress made on regular basis.
While emphasing the importance of micro enterprises to the development of any country, Aganga said government is discussing with Nigeria electricity regulatory commission, NERC for concessionary tariff, while also discussing with the National University Commission, (NUC) for the incorporation of enterprise studies in their curricular; this he also disclosed would involve the establishment of enterprise societies and clubs at both tertiary and secondary education.
He reckoned that knowledge in enterprise from that level will lead to self employment and subsequent employers of labour, as this would inculcate the culture of entrepreneurship in our youths.
He further revealed that this is the first time government was bringing the three agencies: BOI, SMEDAN, and ITF including the standards Organization of Nigeria,(SON) to harmonize the various policies aimed at developing Micro entrepreneurs which are critical to economic development.
Aganga also disclosed that the BOI would be in charge of enterprise funding, as ITF would also be in charge of training the youths for the needed requisite skills, while SMEDAN would be in-charge of business development services and also entrepreneurship training.
NEDEB he said will harness the already existing programmes by the agencies, such as BOI which had already signed Memorandum of understanding with some states; ITF which is into vocational training and of which 10 000 would graduate this month.
Assuring on the continuity of the porogramme, the Minister said the creation of a Micro Small and Medium Enterprises council, steering committees at both states and the Local government and well organized structure would enable it outlive individuals. Consequently, he was optimistic that the programme would reduce unemployment in the country through creation of 3 million direct jobs and 5 million jobs indirectly.