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Microfinance bank operators decry politicisation of the FG's ₦220 billion MSME development fund, identifying it as a major impedement to achieving the goals of the fund

Microfinance bank operators in the country have decried the politicization of the Federal Government's ₦220 billion micro, small and medium enterprises special development intervention Fund, identifying it as a major impediment to achieving the goals of the fund.

Speaking on the performance of the Fund, a key player in the microfinance sector of the economy and head of the Credit department of one of the leading microfinance banks in Nigeria, Umuchinemere Pro-credit Micro Finance Bank Enugu (UPMFB), Mr. Charles Udeani, said the politicization of the Fund led to many people, mainly politicians who are not in business, using their influence in accessing the Fund and refusing to repay since 2014 when the Fund was introduced, resulting to the large scale delinquency witnessed in the performance of the Fund and impeding the achievement of the objectives of establishing the Fund.

In a Press Release signed by the head of the Public/Media Relations Unit of Umuchinemere Pro-credit Micro Finance Bank, Sir Abuchi Anueyiagu, the bank's manager Credit, Mr. Udeani, said that initially because of the politicization of the Fund, many people saw the fund as a largesse meant for political patronage, with the 2015 general elections around the corner, and rushed and benefitted from the Fund, with many refusing to repay, claiming it was a political largesse, while many others simply collected and later vanished from their former places of domicile till date.

Mr. Udeani said the delinquency in the performance of the Fund was adversely affecting the realization of the poverty reduction objective and the revolving policy of the Fund, a development he observed as injurious to the economic health and growth of the country because "the loan which had one year tenure was meant to encourage entrepreneurship and reduce poverty in the country."

Umuchinemere Pro-credit Micro Finance Bank participated in the disbursement of the MSME special development Fund. The bank disbursed between 2014 when the Fund was launched and the first quarter of 2015, a total of ₦182, 730,000 to a total of 553 beneficiaries, with 314 male beneficiaries receiving the sum of ₦91,510,000 and 239 females receiving the sum of ₦91,220,000.

Some of the bad experiences in the Fund's disbursement, Udeani observed, were that "People also erroneously believed that the Fund was their national cake, as well as a campaign largesse by the then outgoing administration and not meant to be repaired, leading to the difficulty in recovery of the fund, as some beneficiaries are reluctant to repay, while some others are at large."

However, it was not a wholesome bad experience for Umuchinemere Pro-credit Micro Finance Bank in the management of the Fund. The bank's manager Credit explained that the Fund actually helped most of the beneficiaries to either establish or grow their businesses and that it was encouraging.

He said the government and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) had good intentions in providing the Fund to empower Nigerians and rid the country of poverty, but advised that in the future the disbursement of such intervention and special development funds should not be politicized, so that the target groups would benefit and the fund not gone into wrong hands, which would in turn enhance repayment/recovery and revolving of the Fund.

Meanwhile, in the first half (January-June) of the year 2017 the Umuchinemere Pro-credit Micro Finance Bank disbursed a total facility of ₦409, 205, 200 to a total of 1,774 beneficiaries, comparatively a shortfall from that of the same period in the immediate past year , where it disbursed a total facility of ₦467,156,359 to its customers numbering a total of 1,851, with 1,111 of them being males and received the sum of ₦187,633,400, while the rest, 740 were females but ironically received a greater amount of the disbursement, ₦279,522,959.

In the present year, UPMFB gave the sum of ₦173,917,500 to 1,085 males, while like a trend, the females that were fewer in number however received the greater amount, ₦235,287,700.

Signed
Sir Abuchi Anueyiagu
Head, Public/Media Relations Unit
UPMFB

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