By Lydia Ngwakwe
Some economists on Tuesday in Lagos urged the Federal Government to focus more attention on Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) as they remained the “engine behind most countries’ growth’’.
The experts who made the call in separate interviews with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) said that MSMEs required more attention as they are the largest employers of labour when put together.
The Chief Executive Officer of a finance company, Mr Ayotunde Bally, said that the major sector that needed fillip was the MSMEs.
“Looking at the current situation in Nigeria, it is a fact that so many sectors need a lot of financial aid to boost our economy.
“However, the major sector that needs more assistance to drive the economy to greater heights is the Medium and Small Scale Enterprises.
“This can be seen in last year’s GDP where MSMEs recorded 96 per cent of employment rate and 84 per cent of businesses in Nigeria. They need more hands to eliminate unemployment in Nigeria,’’ he said.
Bally added that Small and Medium Scale Enterprises in particular needed to be properly funded as they are mostly owned by youths.
Youths, he said, are innovative, creative and have modern high tech ideas that could fast-pace national development.
He said that the lack of raw materials, inadequate capital to fund projects were some of the major challenges of most SMEs.
He suggested that more input of financial resources to this sector would eliminate the major barrier and lead to a favourable economy.
In the same vein Mr Johnson Chukwu, managing director of an asset management company, urged government to support SMEs to take the economy out of recession.
“If government is able to support and focus more on SMEs they’d remain in business and the economy would exit recession.
“It is a good thing that government has already come up with a N75 billion Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) Survival Fund that will enable SMEs to meet their salary payment obligations so that they can succeed,’’ he said.
Prof. Ndubisi Nwokoma, Director, Centre for Economic Policy Analysis and Research of the University of Lagos, also advised government to aggressively support SMEs.
“The Small and Medium Enterprises sector should be aggressively supported by government this year.
“It is a reliable source of economic growth, poverty alleviation and job creation,’’ he said.
Prof. Sheriffdeen Tella, a professor of Economics at Olabisi Onabanjo University, Ago-Iwoye, Ogun, however, urged government to focus on six key areas to improve productivity and income this year.
“Key areas the government should give priority in the new year are industrial growth, particularly consumers goods production, food and cash crops, infrastructures, particularly electricity and roads, education and healthcare to improve productivity and income,’’ he said.
He advised that these could be done through government interventions such as bank credits at low interest, tax holiday for industries; input subsidy for agriculture, particularly in free land clearing.
Tella said that other ways could be through free, improved seeds and subsidised fertiliser for farmers and implementation of minimum wage policy to improve consumers spending power. (NAN)