President Bola Ahmed Tinubu yesterday unfolded a raft of relief packages to cushion petrol subsidy removal pain.
He announced the plan to spend billions of naira between now and March next year, to boost the economy and reflate businesses.
Also, a massive injection of fund into agriculture and agro-allied businesses was made known.
In a broadcast last night, the President said: “To strengthen the manufacturing sector, increase its capacity to expand and create good-paying jobs, we are going to spend N75 billion between July 2023 and March 2024.
“Our objective is to fund 75 enterprises with great potential to kick-start sustainable economic growth, accelerate structural transformation and improve productivity.
“Each of the 75 manufacturing enterprises will be able to access N1billion credit at nine per cent per annum with a maximum of 60 months repayment for long-term loans and 12 months for working capital.”
On MSME, the President said N125 billion would be made available to energise the sector as a key growth driver.
“Our administration recognises the importance of micro, small and medium-sized enterprises and the informal sector as drivers of growth. We are going to energise this very important sector with N125 billion.
“Out of the sum, we will spend N50 billion on conditional grants to one million nano businesses between July 2023 and March 2024.
“Our target is to give N50,000 each to 1,300 nano business owners in each of the 774 local governments across the country.
“Ultimately, this programme will further drive financial inclusion by onboarding beneficiaries into the formal banking system,” he said.
President Tinubu announced another N75 billion for 100,000 MSME start-ups at a nine per cent interest rate payable in 36 months.
He said: “In like manner, we will fund 100,000 MSMEs and start-ups with N75 billion. Under this scheme, each enterprise promoter will be able to get between N500,000 to N1 million at nine per cent interest per annum and a repayment period of 36 months.”
The President said the government saved over N1 trillion from the petrol subsidy removal, which would be used to further develop different socio-economic sectors.
“In a little over two months, we have saved over a trillion naira that would have been squandered on the unproductive fuel subsidy, which only benefitted smugglers and fraudsters.
“That money will now be used more directly and more beneficially for you and your families. For example, we shall fulfil our promise to make education more affordable to all and loans to students who may need them.
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“No Nigerian student will have to abandon higher education because of lack of money. Our commitment is to promote the greatest good for the greatest number of our people. On this principle, we shall never falter.
“We are also monitoring the effects of the exchange rate and inflation on gasoline prices. If and when necessary, we will intervene.
“I assure you my fellow countrymen and women that we are exiting the darkness to enter a new and glorious dawn.”
The government will ensure staple foods are available and affordable, the President said.
He has ordered the release of 200,000 metric tonnes of grains from strategic reserves to households across the 36 states and FCT to moderate prices.
His administration, he said, is also providing 225,000 metric tonnes of fertilizer, seedlings and other inputs to farmers.
President Tinubu said part of the N500 billion approved by the National Assembly would go into the cultivation of the over 500,000 arable lands across the country for all seasons cultivation.
He also explained the model to be adopted to implement the expansive agricultural programme he unveiled recently.
“Our plan to support the cultivation of 500,000 hectares of farmland and all-year-round farming practice remains on course. To be specific, N200 billion out of the N500 billion approved by the National Assembly will be disbursed as follows:
“Our administration will invest N50 billion each to cultivate 150,000 hectares of rice and maize.
“N50 billion each will also be earmarked to cultivate 100,000 hectares of wheat and cassava.
“This expansive agricultural programme will be implemented targeting small-holder farmers and leveraging large-scale private sector players in the agric business with strong performance records.
“In this regard, the expertise of Development Finance Institutions, commercial banks and microfinance banks will be tapped into to develop a viable and appropriate transaction structure for all stakeholders,” he explained.
He also said talks were on with Labour on the upward review of salaries, adding that once the terms were agreed on a new minimum wage, budget provisions would be made to cover the review.
He commended the organisations in the private sector that have already taken the initiative to increase remunerations.
“In the same vein, we are also working in collaboration with the Labour unions to introduce a new national minimum wage for workers. I want to tell our workers this: your salary review is coming.
“Once we agree on the new minimum wage and general upward review, we will make budget provisions for it for immediate implementation.”
On the compressed natural gas (CNG) powered vehicles, the President said N100 billion had been earmarked for the provision of 3,000 CNG-fueled buses, which would be given to transport companies at subsidised rates.
“Part of our programme is to roll out buses across the states and local governments for mass transit at a much more affordable rate. We have made provision to invest N100 billion between now and March 2024 to acquire 3000 units of 20-seater CNG-fuelled buses.
“These buses will be shared with major transportation companies in the states, using the intensity of travel per capita.
“Participating transport companies will be able to access credit under this facility at nine per cent per annum with 60 month repayment period,” he explained.
The earlier-announced Infrastructure Support Fund, President Tinubu said, will enable states to intervene and invest in critical areas, such as healthcare and infrastructure.
“The fund will also bring improvements to rural access roads to ease evacuation of farm produce to markets.
“With the fund, our states will become more competitive and on a stronger financial footing to deliver economic prosperity to Nigerians,” President Tinubu said.
He appealed to Nigerians to bear with the administration as it works hard to get the current harsh seasons out of the way.
The President acknowledged the lag between subsidy removal and the relief plans but assured that the time gap would be further bridged soon.