Lagos pledges N5bn bailout for SMEs

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Lagos pledges N5bn bailout for SMEs

The SMEs in Lagos State will receive N5bn bailout from the state government. This was made known by the Governor of Lagos State, Babajide Sanwo-Olu.

He said that the state is introducing measures to absorb the shocking effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in the state.

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These measures, which include an additional N5bn palliative, will ensure business sustainability and stimulate economic growth, Sanwo-Olu said.

The governor made this known during a private sector interactive webinar organised by the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry on Wednesday.

Sanwo-Olu said the funds would enable SMEs to stay afloat and reduce job losses.

He added that within the next one month, an internship programme, which would accommodate not more than 10,000 persons to acquire additional skills to keep them employed and engaged, would be embarked upon.

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“These persons would be paid over the duration of training expected to be between three to six months. We need to engage people, make them employable by your industries and put monies in their hands so that they can buy the products you manufacture,” he said.

Sanwo-Olu added that plans to draw single-digit borrowing through the Central Bank of Nigeria and suspend all interest on borrowings on the state’s trust fund were underway.

He encouraged manufacturing companies to adopt longer and overnight shifts in line with safety measures, following his approval for overnight shifts.

Sanwo-Olu said that the state would be completing the biggest rice mill in the country by December to tackle the fragility of the food system of the nation.

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He added that collaboration with south-western states and some northern states were ongoing to address interstate food transportation challenges.

The governor added that the state would continue to remain accountable and transparent to the public with regards to donations by publishing in batches donations as received by the government.

“There are still some food items in the warehouse and we are working on distribution models to ensure they get to the masses,” he said.

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In her remarks, the President, Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Mrs Toki Mabogunje, said that the pandemic and the lockdown had caused severe damage and losses to businesses.

She noted that many businesses were grappling with breach of contractual obligations and inability to retain employees.

Other challenges, she listed, included cost escalation resulting from exchange rate depreciation, loss of foreign credit lines, the burden of loan repayment and collapse of consumer purchasing power.

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