By Modupe Gbadeyanka
As part of Federal Government’s effort to provide financial backing to Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) in the agricultural sector, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has disclosed that it would set aside a new N30 billion for this.
Speaking at a press briefing after the eighth Bankers’ Committee annual retreat in Lagos on Saturday, the CBN Governor, Mr Godwin Emefiele, noted that the apex bank would make this a reality in partnership with the Deposit Money Banks.
He said on January 1, 2017, government would launch the Agriculture/SME Fund to boost access to funds by SMEs in the agricultural sector.
However, Mr Emefiele noted that government would not make money available to the Agriculture/SME Fund until March or April in order to allow the DMBs present their audited accounts to the public.
“We will identify opportunities to provide funding and necessary support for agriculture and manufacturing SMEs, including structures and systems to improve the ease of regulatory compliance.
“The central bank will, together with the banking sector, establish an agriculture/SME fund from contributions of a portion of profit after taxes of Deposit Money Banks as a deliberate strategy to support the funding and access to finance by the SMEs and primary agriculture.
“Efforts will include providing industry-focused SME financial skills curriculum to develop financial and business capacity; promoting the need for capacity building; promoting the use of payment systems; providing shared structures for basic financial records; and providing the use of new and existing financial infrastructures for access to credit.
“Over the next few days, the Bankers’ Committee will finalise the strategy, governance framework action plan and assign responsibilities for implementation of the committee’s programme for 2017 that will achieve the desired results and outcomes,” he said.
Mr Emefiele is the Chairman of the Bankers’ Committee.
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