By Samuel Adegoke
The federal government has rolled out a new set of palliatives to help Micro Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) survive the economic fallouts of the coronavirus pandemic in Nigeria.
Under the scheme, the government will give 80 percent discount to all MSMEs that registered their product on the electronic platform the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration (NAFDAC) unveiled on Friday.
The NAFDAC Automated Product Administration and Monitoring System (NAPAMS), is a software solution for the regulation and control of the importation, exportation, manufacture, distribution, advertisement, sale and use of foods, drugs, cosmetics, medical devices, chemicals, detergents and bottled water in Nigeria.
Apart from the 80 percent discount, it approved for the businesses, the federal government has also granted zero tariffs for the first 200 MSMEs to register on the agency’s platform.
The Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo reeled the incentives on Friday at the virtual unveiling of palliatives for MSMEs by NAFDAC, tasking other agencies of the federal government to come up with palliatives for the MSMEs.
He unveiled the electronic registration platform alongside the Director General of NAFDAC, Prof. Mojisola Adeyeye and representatives of other federal agencies regulating micro, small and medium enterprises in the country.
After unveiling the electronic registration platform, Osinbajo said: “These palliatives reflect the President Muhammadu Buhari administration’s determination to support MSMEs and the priority the federal government places on small businesses.”
He listed NAFDAC’s palliatives to include e-registration of MSMEs/products at 80% discounted rate over a period of six months; zero tariffs for the first 200 micro and small businesses to register on the e-platform and waiver on administrative charges for overdue late renewal of expired licenses of micro/small businesses products for a period of 90 days.
As businesses across the world confront the disruptions caused by the Coronavirus pandemic, the vice president noted that the federal government would continue to adopt and implement practical measures to ensure that the projected growth in the micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) sector is not seriously affected by the development.
Osinbajo explained that the response of the federal government was not just “to give succour and assistance to existing MSMEs, but also ensure that there is practical and active fillip to new MSMEs so that the growth of this sector is not discouraged by the current economic trauma.
“This is our moment and the government of Nigeria and its regulatory agencies are prepared to back MSMEs and other businesses that are prepared for the innovative and interesting times that lie ahead of us”, he added.
Osinbajo explained some steps the federal government had been taking to protect private investments especially small businesses in the country, saying the Buhari administration had from the begining of the health cum economic crisis taken strategic decisions aimed at insulating businesses from imminent collapse.
Just after the first index case of the disease was discovered in Nigeria and before the lockdowns began, he said Buhari put together strategic teams to immediately determine the likely impact of the disruptions to the economy and what the country’s immediate and medium to long term approach should be.
The vice president explained that the vulnerability of MSMEs to the severe shocks that were to follow was priority at every consideration of the issues.
“But perhaps even our best projections could hardly have predicted the massive economic disruptions, the unprecedented number of business failures, job losses of what began as a health challenge and the ensuing lockdowns would cause especially to MSMEs, who, of course as you know, are the backbone of our entire economy.
“As the president has repeatedly urged, we have no excuse not to be one of the most productive and prolific economies in the world. Our hope is to achieve this aim in the incredible numbers of MSMEs that we have,” the VP noted.
He described the launch of NAFDAC palliatives for MSMEs as “a thoughtful and strategic response to the devastation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“These are all indicators of the new spirit of NAFDAC and foretaste of the support MSMEs stand to enjoy in wading through these trying times. But this is not a new undertaking for us. It is merely an extension or intensification of the federal government’s long-standing commitment to MSMEs.”
The vice president urged regulatory agencies involved in the MSMEs sector “to improve on their service delivery. We expect to see from them in terms of innovation, adaptability in the next few months and through the challenges that we will be seeing in the business environment.”
He, therefore, said: “I am sure that NAFDAC, SMEDAN, BOI and all of our MDAs concerned with the MSMEs see this period as one when we must work with the MSMEs, identify with them, and must be quick on the job to ensure we are able to resolve all of the problems that they have.”