By Onome Oghenetega
The Delta State government on Sunday made clarification as to why it is establishing “Smart Money”, a scheme similar to the Federal Government “Tradermoni”
In a statement signed by the Commissioner for Information, Chief Patrick Ukah, the government said the scheme is one of the take-aways from the Town Hall Meetings organised by Governor of Delta State, Senator Ifeanyi Okowa, across the state.
It said the scheme is part of the initiatives Governor Okowa is employing to expand the Delta State Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency to capture more Deltans and deepened the micro enterprise in the state.
The statement said the state has a reputation for Micro Small and medium enterprises lending.
The commissioner added that market women and men have benefited from the state MSME from inception of the Okowa-led administration having recognised them as the engine room of micro enterprise.
Ukah stated that the governor observed during the Town Hall meeting that although the state government has done a lot, there was need to extend the MSME to more traders who had not been captured to be included.
He added that the state is currently targeting petty traders and market women predominantly those whose capital is about N20,000 and N10,000 with interest free loan which can situate their businesses better.
According to him, “The state’s budgetary provision in the last two years, provisions were made for social security funds to augment such interventions as part of its social investment programme.
“The interventions are strictly through the structure of the market association while the Agency plays a supervisory role to ensure that the beneficiaries fall within targeted audience with no other conditions required as the state will continue to deliver on its promise and all interventions shall be based on needs assessment.”
The Commissioner for Information stated that the Agency, which was established by Law, has won series of awards in the past including two from the Central Bank of Nigeria in 2012 and 2013 respectively, revealing that even the CBN extended N2bn MSME loan to Delta for onlending in 2014 and 2015.
“95% of industries in Nigeria are micro and fragile as they cannot borrow from financial institutions due to the stringent borrowing criteria and when they do, it is at exorbitant interest rates and many of such businesses don’t survive as fund recovery mechanisms of most micro finance institutions are harsh and hostile and the means of livelihood of many Deltans are heavily dependent on these businesses.
“As part of the state’s strategic direction for poverty alleviation, the MSME Agency has remained more active and focused in lending to groups, cooperatives, associations and some cases targeted individuals, adding that 595 co operatives/enterprises, 2665 males, 3650 females, and 1985 youths totaling 6315 has benefited from the N823,100,000.00 disbursed by the Agency”, he added.
Chief Ukah disclosed that these made the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to adjudge Delta State as the best state under the Microfinance/Small and Middle Enterprise category and the 1st runner-up under the Agric Credit Guarantee Scheme- Trust Fund Model.
Also the state government in November 2017 was rated tops on Human Capital Development amongst all the states in the country by the National Competitiveness Council of Nigeria (NCCN), the Commissioner for Information added.
He noted that ‘Smart Money’ is to be implemented by the Agency not even a Ministry unlike that of the All Progressives Congress (APC) led Federal Government ‘Tradermoni’ that have seen the Vice President junketing from market to market all in the name of a social investment programme.