By; Patrick Titus, Uyo.
No fewer than eight thousand (8000) Akwa Ibom State indigenes have benefited in the interest-free micro credit loans courtesy of the state government as part of effort to stimulate viable commercial activities in the state, Finance Commissioner, Mr. Akan Okon has said in Uyo.
According to the Commissioner, the credit facilities which are for start-up and expansion of small and medium scale enterprises is a deliberate effort by Governor Udo Emmanuel administration to create wealth and reduce poverty through entrepreneurship for sustainable jobs in the state.
Mr. Okon said the revolving loan, under the CBN N2 Billion Micro small and medium enterprises development fund is paid out in phases while the second phase of N1.74 Billion recently launched in the state by the Governor would soon be disbursed through designated Micro Finance Banks, with 60% for women.
The Commissioner who noted that funding has always been a major impediment to growth of the SME sub-sector, expressed delight that the N260 Million earlier given out in the first phase of the scheme has yielded positive result as beneficiaries have not only developed and expanded their businesses, but have started paying back the loan.
On youth empowerment, Commissioner Okon asserted, “the government of Udom Emmanuel has taken steps to ensure that our youths are properly equipped with requisite skills that will enable them function and also take advantage of the benefits that will emanate from the various industries that are coming to the State”.
He hinted that about one thousand youths have so far been trained in various skills, while some have been sent abroad to acquire technical knowledge in computer, Agriculture, power sector, etc that will give them sound footings for innovation especially at this digital age to compete favorably with their counterparts in the world.
Okon maintained that government took this bold step to ensure that the youths key into the industrialization program so that when the industries begin operation the people would have what it takes to run the factories to avoid a situation of bringing in non- indigenes to work in the various factories.
Dispelling insinuations on the lingering bottleneck in the take-off of the industrialization agenda of the present administration, the Commissioner said that building factories of that magnitude take different processes, one of which is to satisfy certain regulatory requirements which he said is on course.
He affirmed that government has put machinery in place to kick-start the industrial renaissance, stressing that it is not true that nothing is happening at those sites, citing example from the Automobile Assembly Plant at Itu, his home Local Government where he said the Israeli partners have started shipping in containers with building materials to the site.
By; Patrick Titus, Uyo.