By Jonathan Ugbal: Government House Correspondent
The Cross River State Government has released a NGN500 million revolving fund for the development of small and medium scale enterprises.
The Governor, Senator Ben Ayade disclosed this Tuesday in Calabar during the commissioning of the State’s owned microfinance bank.
The sum is expected to be the bank’s startup operational fund which will be accessed primarily by residents who do not qualify for the traditional commercial bank facilities which need large collaterals with high interest rates.
“The bank would provide for those who ordinarily are technically challenged in terms of access to loans,” Mr. Ayade told journalists at the bank’s head office located along Ndidem Usang-Iso road in Calabar.
He said the institution will cater for petty traders and those who are into small and medium scale commercial farming. The release of the startup operational fund, he said, was also in fulfilment to his promise to the union of local government employees, NULGE.
“Our interest is to make people, bring value to humanity and make them feel the dignity of mankind,” Ayade said and disclosed that the only criterion for loans through the bank is either through ownership of farmland, a market stand or being a civil servant.
Ayade continued: “The interest regime ranges from zero to five percent, this bank is not for interest or intended to make money but targeted at having women, the vulnerable and the physically challenged to encourage them that there is always a banking sector that can provide for them.”
He added that: “We are taking care of that critical area where over 70 percent of Cross River population is situated, who ordinarily will not benefit from commercial banks,” even as he expressed optimism that: “This newly commissioned bank will ensure you become stable while creating an alternative income rather than depending on the state government.”
He maintained that s
taff of the Cross River State garment factory and those in the local government system are expected to open accounts with the microfinance bank if they must benefit from loans.
“For all young men, as we offer you appointments and create jobs for you in this regime, you will now put food on the table andy with hands on the plough as the microfinance bank will be available to give you loan for you to do that 30,000 hectares of cocoa, to give us over 60,000 hectares of rice farm that we are looking for, or organic bamboo plantation to feed our toothpick factory,” the governor stated.
On the need to spread the branches of the microfinance bank to other local government areas across the state, Ayade disclosed that Boki, with no institution or bank will be the first to get a branch even as the groundbreaking is billed to take place in December.
“I promise Boki that I will bring an institution because the area is too big not to have an institution, I hereby implement the promise I made during my campaign,” the governor said, adding that, “it is now left for Boki sons and daughters through the SSG to choose a location where we can set up the microfinance bank in Boki.”
Earlier, the chairman, National Association of Microfinance Banks in Nigeria, Mr. John Owan, averred that: “We are happy to have a new baby born into the industry as all microfinance banks in Cross River before now were privately owned,” pointing out that: “Having seen the state-of-the-art facilities here, I have no doubt that those who patronise this bank will not regret doing so.”
The Cross River Controller, Central Bank of Nigeria, Sampson Esua, remarked that Ayade had made the job of the apex bank easy as the bank has several packages to offer through the newly established microfinance bank.
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