VP’s Remarks At Virtual Launch Of NAFDAC Palliatives For MSMEs
REMARKS BY HIS EXCELLENCY, PROF. YEMI OSINBAJO, SAN, GCON, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA, AT THE VIRTUAL LAUNCH OF THE NAFDAC PALLIATIVES FOR MSMEs ON FRIDAY 15TH OF MAY, 2020
Let me begin by saying that the DG of NAFDAC, Prof Moji Adeyeye and her team deserve our special commendation for this thoughtful and strategic response to the devastation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, with what we have seen happening to businesses, especially MSMEs here in Nigeria and worldwide.
Just after the first index case of the disease was discovered in Nigeria and before the lockdowns began, Mr President put together strategic teams to immediately determine the impact of the disruptions likely to be caused to the economy and what our immediate and medium to long term approach should be.
The vulnerability of MSMEs to the severe shocks that were to follow was the priority at every consideration of the issues. But perhaps even our best projections could hardly have predicted the massive economic disruptions, the unprecedented number of business failures, job losses that what began as a health challenge and the ensuing lockdowns would cause especially to MSMEs, who, of course as you know, are the backbone of our entire economy.
So, of importance to the government’s response was therefore to find ways of not just giving succour and assistance to existing MSMEs, but also ensuring that there is practical and active fillip to new MSMEs so that the growth of this sector is not discouraged by the current economic trauma. This is why the e-Registration assistance for MSMEs through the Automated Product Administration and Monitoring System (NAPAMS) is so timely.
Henceforth, MSMEs can now process the registration of their products with NAFDAC in the comfort of their homes, at an 80% discounted rate over a period of six months.
Apart from the obvious cost savings it brings, e-registration will serve our MSMEs especially well at this time of travel restrictions and social distancing.
I am informed that in recognition of the current economic hardships being experienced by MSMEs, NAFDAC has rolled out some other palliatives for Micro/Small businesses, including Zero tariffs for the first 200 micro and small businesses to register on the E-platform and Waiver on administrative charges for overdue late renewal of expired licenses of micro/small businesses products for a period of 90 days.
These are all indicators of the new spirit of NAFDAC and foretaste of the support MSMEs stand to enjoy in wading through these trying times.
But this is not a new undertaking for us. It is merely an extension or intensification of the Federal Government’s long-standing commitment to MSMEs. As you might well know by now, the National MSME Clinics have taken place in most States of the Federation, and the idea has been to bring all the relevant government agencies closer to a full understanding of the sector’s challenges and to implement the quickest, most efficient ways of resolving them. So, in state after state, we have gone with our regulators taking into account all of the needs and problems of MSMEs in those particular localities and all we have tried to do is to ensure that the regulators see themselves as facilitators of business not as policemen of businesses, not as obstacles but as those that would make sure that MSMEs have the easiest time in doing business in Nigeria.
Indeed, the event today is aimed at assisting and addressing some of the challenges identified during those MSME Clinics. This is possibly one of the most challenging times in human history. And I don’t think the point is overstated at all.
Suddenly, all over the world, businesses have practically come to a halt. For us in Nigeria, revenues from our major source of foreign exchange – oil, has petered out, businesses are prostrate. But paradoxically, these can also be for us, the best of times.
As the President has repeatedly urged, we have no excuse not to be one of the most productive and prolific economies in the world. Our hope is to achieve this aim in the incredible numbers of MSMEs that we have.
We certainly can achieve the aim of being one of the most productive and most prolific economies in the world, especially because of the sheer range of talents that we have in technology, entertainment, TV and film production, manufacturing, agro-allied industry, and several ancillary services.
This is our moment and the government of Nigeria and its regulatory agencies are prepared to back MSMEs and other businesses that are prepared for the innovative and interesting times that lie ahead of us.
Again, I would like to thank the Director-General of NAFDAC and her team for this innovation and also say to them that surely this is only the beginning of what we expect to see from them in terms of innovation, adaptability in the next few months and the challenges that we will be seeing in business environment. I am sure that NAFDAC, SMEDAN, BOI and all of our MDAs concerned with the MSMEs see this period as a one when we must work with the MSMEs, identify with them, and must be quick on the job to ensure we are able to resolve all of the problems that they have.
Thank you all and God bless you.