Shareholders have expressed concern over alleged move by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to transfer N16 billion out of the N60billion in Agri-Business/Small and Medium Enterprises Investment Scheme (AGSMEIS) to Trader-Moni, an initiative promoted by the Federal Government.
AGSMEIS is a voluntary initiative of the banker’s committee approved at its 331 meeting in February 2017. The fund requires all banks in Nigeria to set aside five (5) percent of their profit after tax (PAT) annually to grow Nigeria’s Agri-Business/Small and Medium Enterprises.
Trader moni which was launched by the Federal Government in June 2018, targets market women, traders, artisans and enterprising youths, and is a micro-credit scheme to cater for ultra-micro enterprises.
This move which Isaac Okorafor, director, corporate communication, CBN declined knowledge of last night by phone call is already unsettling the banking sector landscape.
Godwin Emefiele, governor of CBN said last week in Lagos that “Under the auspices of the Bankers Committee, the sum of over N60billion has so far been set aside under the AGSMIES fund to fund Micro Small and Medium enterprise businesses in the Agriculture and Manufacturing sectors of our economy.”
“The CBN recognises that the greatest challenge confronting the MSMES and local farmers is access to credit, and that to unlock the growth potentials in our country; these group must access funding seamlessly”, Emefiele said.
Sources in the banking sector now allege that the CBN plans to transfer N16 billion from the AGSMIES fund to the federal government’s Trader-Moni scheme. But shareholders are not comfortable with the move. The Trader-Moni scheme has been described as sophisticated vote buying by the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
“We are appealing to CBN not to divert the money banks contributed for the SMEs. Such thing can’t happen abroad. That money must remain there for the SMEs. We need SMEs to create jobs. Government doesn’t create jobs and we need to grow the SMEs to fill that gap”, Boniface Okezie, national coordinator, Progressive Shareholders Association of Nigeria (PSAN) told BusinessDay on phone.
Okezie noted that by accepting to contribute five percent of their Profit After Tax which shareholders would have gotten in form of dividend, “banks have made sacrifices already, and they should be allowed to grow the SMEs. Whether politically motivated or not, the money must not be touched,” he said.
“Banks have made such savings to grow the SMEs. The money must not be diverted for any reason by CBN. CBN must account for every bank shareholder’s money collected for this purpose. We cannot ignore possible pressure from the politicians to access the money and spend this season for votes but CBN must resist such pressure,” another shareholder said on phone last night.
Trader Moni was launched in partnership with the Bank of Industry (BoI) in order to enlarge government’s “financial inclusion agenda down to the grassroots.”
As political campaigns garner momentum, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has been active lately in distributing Trader Moni which is designed to help petty traders expand their trade through the provision of collateral free loans of N10,000. Under ‘Trader Moni’, traders don’t need any documents or property to collect N10,000 loan from the federal government.
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