FG Begins Disbursement of N50 Billion Grants To Small Business Owners

Beneficiaries of the Federal Government’s N50,000 grant for nano business owners have started receiving credit alerts.

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Minister for Industry, Trade and Investment Dr Doris Uzoka-Anite, who confirmed this at the weekend, said no fewer than 200,000 small business owners have received the payment.

According to her, 800,000 others will get their grants before the close of the programme by May 31.

This will bring the total number of beneficiaries to the targeted 1,000,000 Nigerians spread across the 774 local government areas.

She explained that about 3.6 million applications were received out of which the beneficiaries were selected randomly from among those who met the conditions.

The minister said N50 billion is available in the 2024 budget for disbursement.

The programme is one of the palliative measures announced by President Bola Ahmed Tinubu in a broadcast on July 31, last year to cushion the pains of petrol subsidy removal.

The President, in the broadcast, said: “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.”

In the broadcast, the President also announced that 75 manufacturing firms will be given N1 billion single-digit interest loans each to reflate their businesses.

Dr. Uzoka-Anite, in response to enquiries by our reporter, said: “The application portal was closed at midnight on April 17. The portal had to be closed due to an overwhelming number of applications totalling over 3.6 million.

“The Bank of Industry is ensuring transparency and accountability in the N50 billion disbursement using NIN, BVN and bank account details for verification to prevent duplication.

“They will also perform physical enumeration to re-verify information, including taking photographs of beneficiaries.

“The time frame for disbursement is the end of May 2024. The requirement for determining the beneficiaries is not based on particular criteria. The goal is to reach 1,290 beneficiaries per local government area across the country totalling one million people.”

On why many of the beneficiaries have not been reached, she explained: “We acknowledge that some of the beneficiaries are getting alert while others are not.

“The disbursement is subject to verification of NIN, which became mandatory after the initial application phase which required only BVN.

“The selection is random and without human intervention from those who have passed their NIN and BVN verification.

“For an applicant to know if they are verified, they will get to know through publications. The verification is a digital process.

“Individuals will not need to be contacted after verification but the disbursement will happen automatically if they are passed.”

She ruled out the possibility of giving the grant to all the 3.6 million applicants, saying: “It is not all the 3.6 million applicants that will receive alerts. The goal is to ensure one million of them get the N50,000 grants.

“N50 billion is the threshold of the amount budgeted for nano businesses in 2024. We cannot verify and pay everyone at the same time.

“The process has been thorough and time-consuming, conducted in batches to minimise errors.”

The minister added that the grants have been issued in all states, proceeding with one local government at a time and the disbursement is based on verified applications – state by state, local government by local government.

On whether the list of beneficiaries would be published at the end of the process for transparency, she said: “Yes, the list will be available, with the option to check the status via BVN and last name.”

On the possibility of extending the scheme to allow more beneficiaries, the minister said: “Currently, there are no plans for another grant. The decision for any further aid will depend on the President’s discretion.”

Following the withdrawal of the petrol subsidy, the Federal Government has introduced different categories of palliatives, including giving out grains to Nigerians through governors and federal lawmakers.

It has also made available cash disbursement, giving each of the states N2 billion to be made available to vulnerable Nigerians.

Federal workers have also collected N35,000 in wage awards made available for six months.

Many states have given wage awards to their workers in addition to other palliatives.

Last month, the Federal Government said the plan to bring in Compressed Natural Gas (CNG)-powered buses would materialise before the end of this month.

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