The Federal Government has created about 1,401,242 jobs within the last one year through the implementation of trade and investment reforms, policies and programmes, the Minister of Trade and Investment, Mr. Olusegun Aganga, has said.
Aganga, according to a statement made available to our correspondent by his Special Adviser on Media, Mrs. Yemi Kolapo, said this during the ministerial session of the Fifth National Council on Trade and Investment in Minna, Niger State on Thursday, noting that the ministry hoped to double the figure very soon.
According to the one-year score sheet of the various agencies and parastatals under the ministry, the Bank of Industry created 1,335,000 jobs; the Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency,31,122; Onne Oil and Gas Free Zone, 30,000; and other Free Trade Zones under the Nigeria Export Processing Zones Authority, 5,120. These give a total of 1,401,242 jobs.
The minister also said the ministry was currently executing matching programmes for SMEs, in collaboration with state governments, to remove the bottlenecks associated with securing collaterals and make it easier for SMEs to access loans to start or expand their businesses.
Aganga was quoted as saying, “As a result of the various reforms in the different focus areas, jobs created by the ministry’s parastatals in the last one year are estimated at 1,401,242 jobs as enumerated above, even though not all the jobs created are captured here. However, as the reforms continue, and with maximum focus on results, we hope to double this figure very soon.
“We are executing matching programmes with state governments on SMEs and deepening financing penetration, using microfinance banks; and the Bank of Industry is getting round collateral issues related with funding through cross-guarantees by members of cooperatives.”
In that regard, he said the value of loans approved by BoI, over the last one year increased by 68 per cent or N77.74bn from N114.30bn to N192.04bn, while the estimated jobs created also increased by 34 per cent or 335,000 from 1,000,000 to 1,335,000 in the last one year.
“The President has also directed the Ministry of Trade and Investment, the Ministry of Finance and the Central Bank of Nigeria to work on recapitalising BoI to increase the amount of funds available to MSMEs,” the minister said.
He stressed that his ministry had begun repositioning the Weights and Measures Department so as to enthrone fairness and transparency in the consumption of goods and services across all the sectors of the economy.
“The President has given approval for the repositioning of the Weights and Measures Department in my ministry to enable Nigerians have value for money. Within the next two months, Nigerians will begin to experience the difference in terms of getting value for money across all sectors of the economy,” Aganga said.
He added, “Currently, we are developing small hydro power plants in strategic areas across the country where they can serve SMEs to reduce their operational costs. Through the Entrepreneurship Development Programme, a total of 10,374 SMEs got funding from SMEDAN’s various programmes in the year.
“A small and medium enterprise is expected to employ at least three workers each, which translates into a total of 31,122 jobs. We have embarked on an investment climate reform programme, working with the Department for International Development and the World Bank.”