Saturday 18 July 2020

FG announces stimulus for creative, hotel other industries

Vice-President, Yemi Osinbajo. Pic: c/o FGN.
As the federal government, on Thursday, announced a stimulus for the MSMEs of the economic sectors, the creative industry seemed to have been included, perhaps, based on the report of the committee set up by the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed.

In a statement by the Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo, through his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Laolu Akande, the creative sector, private schools, hotels, and road transport workers among others, will benefit from the stimulus package of the federal  government.. The stimulus, specifically, he explained, is for Micro Small and Medium Enterprises to cushion the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic economic crisis. Osinbajo who spoke at the 2020 edition of the MSMEs Awards, said the support scheme had been covered by the government’s Economic Sustainability Plan.

However, the criteria to benefit from for the stimulus, he stated include the strength of staff by the MSMEs. A minimum of 10 and maximum of 50 staff members have been listed as criteria.

Osinbajo's statement:  “In that plan which essentially envisages an overall N2.3 trillion stimulus package, we made extensive provision for financial support to MSMEs, ranging from a guaranteed off-take scheme to a survival fund that includes a payroll support programme for qualifying businesses."

Earlier in July, the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, virtually, received the report of the Post-Covid-19 Initiatives Committee on the Creative Industry. Inaugurated by the Minister on May 19, 2020, the committee, amid protests over inadequate representations across the industry, has as members, among others, Ali Baba (Chairman); Hajia Sa’a Ibrahim (Vice-Chairman); Bolanle Austen Peters; Charles Novia; Segun Arinze; Ali Jita; Baba Agba, Oliver Enwonwu and Kene Okwuosa.

After receiving the report, Mohammed stated: “Based on the feedback that I have received, I have no doubt that the report you have just submitted is a culmination of painstaking efforts by all of you, and will go a long way not just in aiding the recovery of the Creative Industry from the negative effects of the pandemic, but also in putting the industry on the right path to sustainable growth in the years ahead.” The minister said the report came at a time the Federal Government was looking in the direction of the creative industry to boost the economy, particularly in the wake of the on going pandemic.

However, in the days ahead, more clarifications and breakdown, specifically as concerned the creative induatry, are expected to know if the report submitted by the committee has reflected in the statement credited to Vice President Osinbajo.

From all indications, the statement by the vice president appears to have taken care of the report received by Mohammed on the creative industry. A separate statement or stimulus for the creative industry outside of what Osinbajo announced on Thursday is not likely to surface.

Mohammed has described the Creative Industry as a very critical sector of the nation’s economy and a major plank of the economic diversification policy of the current administration. He explained that in view of the devastating impact of Covid-19 on the Creative Industry, it has become imperative to have a collective and government-supported approach in dealing with the immediate, short and long term economic stimulus and initiatives for the industry, in order to mitigate the effect of the pandemic on the sector.

Announcing the establishment of the committee, Mohammed said the Covid-19 pandemic has impacted negatively on the nation, and that the Creative Industry has been particularly hard hit, considering the fact that it is an industry that has people-interaction at its core. "Instead of addressing these problems piecemeal, we should do so holistically for a more positive outcome,” the minister explained.

Osinbajo said:  "I am glad to note that this year has been an exception despite the challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic. Locally, businesses are facing their most challenging time and the impact is particularly severe on MSMEs.

“The central plank of our response as a government to the economic challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic has been the Economic Sustainability Plan recently approved by President Muhammadu Buhari and the Federal Executive Council.

“The guaranteed off-take scheme seeks to provide support for MSMEs, manufacturing local products by guaranteeing the purchase from them of qualifying products such as face masks, hand sanitisers, PPE for medical workers, etc.

“These products will be distributed to Nigerians, Nigerian institutions and entities that would require them.

“The survival fund will help provide payroll support to MSMEs with a minimum of 10 and maximum of 50 staff. The MSMEs that qualify for these will make available their payroll for verification by government.

“Companies that meet the requirements will then be eligible to have the salaries of their verified staff paid directly from the fund for a period of three months… the target beneficiaries of this scheme will include private schools, hotels, road transport workers, creative industries and others.”

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