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ICAN seeks interest-free loans for SMEs

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By Lucas Ajanaku

 

The Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN) has urged the Federal Government to support Small Medium Enterprises (SMEs) and small- and medium-sized practices (SMPs) to weather the impact of coronavirus pandemic.

It also enjoined the citizens to patronise “Made-in-Nigeria” products to boost the economy.

Its President, Mrs. Onome Adewuyi, who spoke in Lagos at the weekend during a parley with media executives in Lagos, said one of the great lessons from the pandemic and the attendant lockdown was the ingenuity displayed by producing face masks, water/soap dispensers, sanitisers, personal protective equipment and ventilators locally.

While calling on the government to latch in on this to drive national economic revival, she advised that the effort should be reinforced through more investment in tertiary institutions to fine-tune these inventions.

She said since the lockdown prevented many people and corporate entities from going about their value-creating activities, the hardest hit were SMEs, SMPs and other players in the informal sector.

She, therefore, called on governments to focus on how to support these entities and people who contribute the most to national economic growth, adding that most of the SMEs and SMPs might have consumed their capital in order to survive.

She said: “There is need for them to be given one-year interest free loans by development institutions so that they can revive their businesses. When they start to grow and prosper, they will pay back the loans while the government will reap taxes from them.”

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On steps to be taken to set Nigeria on the path of  growth, the ICAN chief explained that one of the banes of economic growth and development of the country was over dependence on oil and poor infrastructure such as power supply, roads, rail, health, education facilities and potable water.

She said diversification of the national source of foreign exchange (forex) must be done not only in words and plans but in real investment in infrastructure. She said Nigeria must evolve a strategy for the export of intangible human expertise to drive its development.

She also said the nation should create business hubs based on specialisation in different zones of the country.

“While agriculture is key and should be mechanised, except the nation adds value to its products before export, we would continue to be at the mercy of our trading partners.  We need to process our agricultural products to add value and earn foreign exchange.

“Necessity, they say, is the mother of invention. In unison, Nigerians arose.  This points to the huge human capacity and creativity that exist in this country. The spirit of WE CAN DO IT must be embraced, propagated and seriously encouraged,” she said.

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