By Joshua Olomu
Abuja, Sept. 24, 2020 The Federal Government says applicants will not pay any ‘facilitation fee’ to access its intervention grant for Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs), and cautions unsuspecting applicants against fraudsters.
Mrs Mariam Katagum, the Minister of State for Industry, Trade and Investment, stated this at a news conference on the implementation process of the Survival Fund in on Thursday in Abuja.
Katagum, who is also the Chairperson, Programme Steering Committee, said the Project Delivering Office (PDO) for the scheme was receiving feedbacks from Nigerians since its registration portal opened on Sept. 21, for applicants.
According to her, the Federal Government, through the Nigeria Economic Sustainability Plan (NESP), has commenced nationwide implementation of the National MSME Survival Fund and the Guaranteed Off-take Stimulus Schemes.
Minister said: “Applicants are to access the fund at no cost since the initiative is borne out of the Federal Government’s continued commitment to help cushion the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the economy.
“The Survival Fund will not at any time or for any reason request payment or facilitation fees to access the grants.
“We will, however, like to draw the attention of the public to attempts by scammers and other undesirable elements to swindle innocent Nigerians with promises of assured disbursements for a fee.
“The public is encouraged to report any such nefarious activities to the nearest security agents and follow up with a report to the PDO via the mediums provided on the website.
“The PDO has received reports of some attempted cyber-attacks on the application website.
“We will like to assure the public that the application system is secured with multiple levels of encryption and any information loaded on the official application page is saved from cyber-attacks of any kind,” she said.
Katagum lauded MSMEs’ performances across the country and urged them to take full advantage of the scheme by applying for any category that suits their needs.
According to her, although many Nigerians have applied for the grant but there is need for improved awareness creation for MSMEs, especially those in the grassroots to key into it.
The minister therefore lauded the Federal Government for its efforts at supporting MSMEs to strive amidst the COVI9-19 pandemic period.
“As at 8.3 a.m. this morning, total successful registrations stood at 174,574 with Kano, Kaduna, Lagos, Katsina and the FCT having the highest applications.
“Some states and local governments that have low access to network connectivity and internet services are experiencing delays with registration.
“However, we also have feedback that state governments and trade associations are putting in place innovative strategies to deal with the situation.
“On behalf of all MSMEs across the country, I want to thank His Excellency President Muhammadu Buhari for this critical intervention at this time of economic hardship coupled with the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I also want to place on record our continued appreciation to His Excellency, the Vice-President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo for his steadfast leadership and guidance since the conception of this scheme,” she said.
Mr Tola Johnson, the Special Assistant to the President on MSMEs and Project Coordinator for the Survival Fund, said that scheme established 37 Help Desks to assist applicants across the country.
Johnson said that focal persons were also spread across the states for continued sensitisation and assistance for applicants to ensure that all states of the federation benefited from the scheme.
Johnson urged trade associations and unions to mobilise their members to apply for the grant to enable them ameliorate the challenges facing their businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic period.