By Chijioke Okoronkwo
Abuja, Oct.1, 2020 The Presidency has told artisans not to pay anybody, under any guise, while trying to access the support grant under the National Economic Sustainability Plan (NESP).
Mr Tola Johnson, Special Assistant to the President on Micro Small and Medium and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs), Office of the Vice President, said this at the inauguration of the Artisan and Transport Support Scheme on Thursday in Abuja.
The Artisan and Transport Support Scheme is a track of the Survival Fund Scheme for MSMEs captured under the NESP drafted by the Vice President Yemi Osinbajo-led committee and approved by President Muhammadu Buhari.
The special assistant, who is also the Project Coordinator, said that the plight of the downtrodden was very important to the President as he had insisted that the ordinary man in the street must benefit from the schemes.
“The scheme is for you; take ownership of it; do not pay anyone one kobo; that is the directive of the President.
“You will not need to go through anybody’s account; it will go straight to your account; if at any point in time there are ambiguities and anybody says I will help you fill your form, you will pay this or that, our numbers are with you; call us at any point you come across anything you do not understand.
“It is not difficult; it is a programme you go online and fill; but is not everybody that has the time to start filling forms.
`What we have done is that we have enumerators across the various states that will approach you. Give your names to your associations, your association leaders will forward these names to the enumerators.
“Your own business is to have a Bank Verification Number(BVN); we will not deal with you if you don’t have a BVN; we will not deal with if you don’t have a bank account; so for you to benefit, ensure you have a bank account and BVN.’’
According to him, associations are the ones required to have CAC documents.
He said that once a small business operator had the unique association number, he could apply on his own.
“It is either you go through your association or you go by yourself,’’ he said.
Johnson said that the scheme was designed to provide 333,000 artisans and transport business operators with a N30,000 operations grant to reduce the effect of income loss during the COVID-19 pandemic and attendant disruptions.
The special assistant said that the scheme aimed to accommodate 9,009 beneficiaries in each state of the federation and the FCT
On her part, Mariam katagum, Minister of State for Industry, Trade and Investment, who performed the inauguration, said the Artisans and Transport Scheme was part of the President’s plans to bring succour to MSMEs.
“This is one of the schemes contained in this omnibus plan; others are the Payroll Support Scheme, the MSME Grants, and the Guaranteed Off-take Schemes.
“We have plans for CAC which is to start free registration for the MSMEs that were hitherto not registered.
“What we have come to inaugurate today is the Artisans and Transport Scheme and explain how you can benefit as associations and union members.
“However, we are only launching the artisans part of the scheme today; we will inform and engage the leadership of the transport sector, particularly the Ministry of Transport and the general public, before commencing the transport scheme.’’
She said that the implementation of the Artisans’ Scheme had been divided into three different streams.
According to her, the states in the first stream which will run from Oct. 1 to Oct. 15, beginning with the FCT, are Lagos, Kaduna, Kano, Ogun, Borno, Bauchi, Anambra, Abia, Rivers, Plateau and Delta.
“From Oct. 19 to Oct. 31, we will take the next twelve states, from Nov. 9 to Nov. 31, we will take the last 13 states,’’ she said.
In a remark, Alhaji Dikko Radda, Director-General, Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency (SMEDAN), commended President Muhammadu for his administration’s interventions for MSMEs.
He said that he had not seen any other government that invested more in human development than the current one