Small and Medium Scale Enterprises (SMEs) affected by Covid-19 can approach the Central Bank of Nigeria for a loan to restart their businesses, the Federal Government has said.
The government said the CBN has set aside N150 billion to help SMEs and pharmaceutical companies to restart their businesses after the negative impact of Covid -19 on the economy.
The Chairman of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, Mr Boss Mustapha, disclosed this at the daily briefing of the task force on Thursday.
Mustapha, who is also the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, stated that owners of SMEs can access between N500, 000 to N25 million loan through the CBN to get their businesses going.
He said the fund is for business owners who can prove that their businesses were affected by Covid -19.
The SGF said the conditions for accessing the funds have been published on the website of the CBN.
Mustapha said: “The eligibility criteria is provided for on the website of the central bank of Nigeria (CBN). Like I said, there are two packages – the first N100 billion is designed to deal with major hospitals and pharmaceutical companies.
“The essence is that after Covid -19 or even in the processes of Covid -19 we will be able to build our health infrastructure.
That is why that money is made available for our major manufacturing companies to begin to explore the possibilities of manufacturing drugs sufficient to deal with Covid -19 and other health related matters.
“The second component – that is, the N50 billion is the one that is designed for SMEs. Even within the context of those SMEs, there is a package that is designed for household and within the household they have the mini, they have the micro and they have the micro plus.
“The amount that you access under the mini scheme is N500, 000 for households that can show that their businesses were affected by cobid-19. For the micro, it is from N500, 000 to N1.5 million.
Part of the eligibility is justification or showing proof of the fact that your business has been affected by the Covid -19.
“And for the micro plus, it is N1.5 million to N3 million. But under the SMEs, the maximum you can access is N25 million. That’s entirely designed to deal with the lower level of our business and enterprises that they can access and the conditions are not many and they are not difficult.
“I saw that of the mini – it is a valid identification, a guarantor and some few other conditions because the essence is that we are operating in very difficult times and when you begin to put very difficult conditions then the essence of the package will be defeated.
“The essence of the package is to provide a lifeline for our people who have been adversely affected by Covid -19.
My advice is that we should access the website of the central bank of Nigeria or visit any of the NIRSAL micro finance bank because it is coordinated by NIRSAL micro finance bank which is also an agency of the CBN, you will be able to get all the information that is required for the purposes of your access to the loan facilities.”
The Director-General of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu said the SMEs remain the most hit by Covid -19.
The NCDC DG stated that there was need to support owners of SMEs in order to avoid job losses.
He said: “Covid -19 has no doubt had a very huge impact on our economy. That impact on our economy inadvertently also have an impact on health because if people are not about to work, they are not able to earn a living, they are not able to fulfill all their health needs.
“So there is a very strong link between economy and health. By allowing certain parts of the economy to restart, we are also trying to achieve a health benefit. You all know that many aspects of the economy have been hit very hard and people work in these places.
“No aspect of the economy has been hit more than the SMEs because this is really where most of Nigerians work and we have to support them in surviving because if they don’t survive, people (will) lose work, if people lose work they don’t pay attention to their health, our job becomes a lot more difficult.”
He said the task force has published a guideline on the Covid-19 website of the PTF on how employers can restart their businesses safely.
“We have recently published a new guidelines for businesses and employers in Nigeria. These guidelines offer specific recommendations to businesses on how to exist safely in their own sector. We have gone into great details to ensure that we provide useful advice for almost every type of business to restart safely,” he added.