Our Correspondent

Daily Courier – Twenty-eight local firms have received a loan of N23.2 billion under the 100 for 100 Policy on Production and Productivity (PPP), an intervention of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) designed to stimulate investments in Nigeria’s priority sectors.

The N23.2 billion was pooled by seven commercial banks which seek to ultimately address the nation’s unemployment nightmare by providing diverse jobs and boosting exports in agriculture, healthcare, manufacturing, extractive industries, logistics services, trade-related infrastructure, and renewable energy.

Speaking at the event, the CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele, explained that under the new initiative, manufacturers in critical sectors that seek to engage in greenfield projects or in expanding their existing facilities will have access to cheaper forms of credit at single-digit rates, as well as foreign exchange to procure plants and machinery every 100 days.

“Specifically, for this first cycle of the initiative ending today, 243 applications valued at N321.06 billion, spread over key sectors such as agriculture, energy, healthcare, manufacturing, and services sectors were submitted on the portal. After much engagement, 79 applications were received from banks, valued at N121.87 billion, for projects in six sectors, namely agriculture, energy, healthcare, manufacturing, mining, and services sectors. The requests were carefully screened and scrutinised against set-out selection criteria, which is categorised into production efficiency and scalability; local content capacity; job creation and human capital development; operating sector relevance; and potential contribution to economic growth.

“For those seeking to invest in new greenfield or existing brownfield projects, the Bank will continue to provide all the needed support, both in Naira and dollars specifically for the importation of plants and equipment to actualise these investments. It is pertinent to point out that the foreign exchange support will be solely for the importation of spares, plants and equipment needed to increase the production capacities of these companies. Let me emphasise that our mission through this initiative is to ensure that priority is accorded to companies who display verifiable progress in our imports substitution and job creation drive. Consequently, we would soon unveil a new FX bidding regime that is market-driven and supports companies that accord utmost priority for our local production and job creation drive”, he explained.

Emefiele listed other intervention programmes of CBN to include; N1 trillion Real Sector Facility (RSF), Real Sector Support Facility (RSSF), Anchor Borrowers’ Programme (ABP), Commercial Agriculture Credit Scheme (CACS), Non-Oil Export Stimulation Facility (NESF), and Textile Sector Intervention Facility (TSIF).

“Under the N1 trillion Real Sector Facility, the Bank has released a total of N1.40 trillion to 331 real sector projects in agriculture, manufacturing, mining, and services sectors. Under its Real Sector Support Facility (RSSF), the CBN has disbursed N166.21 billion to 25 projects. In the agricultural sector, the Bank’s Anchor Borrowers’ Programme (ABP) has disbursed N927.94 billion to over 4.5 million smallholder farmers for the cultivation of 21 commodities across the country.

“Also, the Bank has financed 666 large-scale agricultural projects with the potential of creating an estimated 70,070 direct and indirect jobs under its Commercial Agriculture Credit Scheme (CACS)”, he added.

The CBN governor appealed to all prospective investors to take advantage of the huge opportunities provided for investment in the real sector under the PPP and approach their banks to submit their applications for participation under the initiative.

In his goodwill message, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Boss Mustapha, who was represented by the Permanent Secretary Ecological Office, Dr Habiba Lawal said the initiative remains germane as it will help eradicate poverty, ensure wealth creation and provide jobs.

He Urged the beneficiaries to maximally use the opportunity to breathe fresh air into the economy.

In his goodwill message, the Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige, hailed the CBN for the initiative, even as he admonished recipients to remain highly productive as productivity remains the backbone of the country.

“Without productivity, you lag behind and this initiative is consistent with President Muhammadu Buhari’s plan to lift 100 million Nigerians out of poverty.

“We have no choice but to key into this initiative. We have a youthful population and we must use this to our advantage.

“We have a problem. The youths from 18-40 are highly unemployed. We can see them join Boko Haram, Avengers, IPOB, etc. They’re jobless. They are doing nothing. We’re sitting on a keg of gunpowder and we need to address this challenge using an initiative like the 100 for 100 policy.

“Again, we’ve not adequately diversified the economy. For a mono-economy relying heavily on crude oil receipts, we are still in danger. We know we have the CBN playing several roles but it’s good to keep the economy going. The fiscal and monetary authorities are like Siamese twins. They work together”, he said.

In his remarks, the President Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), Mansur Ahmed, said that President Muhammadu Buhari’s mantra of ‘producing what we eat and eating what we produce’ was commendable.

One of the beneficiaries of the facility, Mr Adedolapo Adeyemi of Harvest Feed and Agro Processing Limited said the new CBN scheme has helped the company expand its production.

“We are going to buy a machine that will boost production by 60% and create 300 jobs”, he said.

Highpoint of the ceremony was the presentation of symbolic cheques to the beneficiaries, through seven Participating Financial Institutions (PFIs), FCMB, Fidelity, Keystone, Stanbic IBTC, Union Bank, Wema Bank and Zenith Bank.