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COVID-19 intervention funds: We don’t know NIRSAL’s eligibility criteria, SMEs lament



COVID-19 intervention funds: We don’t know NIRSAL’s eligibility criteria, SMEs lament – The dust generated by the alleged refusal of NIRSAL Microfinance Bank to disburse the N50 billion CBN Covid-19 intervention fund to micro, small and medium enterprises is yet to settle as complaints persist of inaccessibility of the loans.

A cross section of SMEs operators who spoke on the development, particularly members of the LCCI, MAN, said they did not understand the criteria adopted to NIRSAL Microfinance Bank to determine those who qualify for the loans and those not..

The House of Representatives on Tuesday resolved to probe the CBN and NIRSAL Mictofinance Bank over the widespread complaints that the loans were not disbursed to eligible applicants.

It was gathered that many who applied for the loan through NISRAL’s online platform did not get an acknowledgement of their applications while only a few got feedback from the organisation.

The CBN had introduced a N50bn COVID-19 Targeted Credit Facility aimed at providing financial relief to households and small businesses as they cope with the economic impact of the pandemic.

The apex bank said the loan disbursements would be based on the activity, cashflow, and industry size of the beneficiaries.

It said each eligible SMEs would receive a maximum of N25m while qualified households could access a maximum of N3m each.

To ensure easy access to the credit facility, the CBN promised to waive the provision of guarantor requirement for applicants.

In addition, the CBN said all applicants to the N50bn credit facility that had successfully completed the application processes and submitted their account details should expect credit alerts 48 hours afterwards.

Sharing the experiences of manufacturers who tried to access the loan, the acting Director-General, MAN, Ambrose Oruche, said 12 of MAN’s members who applied for the loan were not credited.

According to him, there was no acknowledgment from the NISRAL microfinance bank.

“We had 12 companies that qualified; we prepared their business plans and sent their applications. The microfinance bank did not acknowledge the application not to talk of giving out the loan,” he said.

“The N50bn loan: manufacturers did not get it. The applications went through successfully. I think the N50bn went mostly to households and traders.

“Some households that were affected by the pandemic and applied in Lagos and got acknowledgement for their applications were not considered. So, who took the N50bn?”

He said that the association was still processing the N1tn loan and the N100bn loan for its members.

Also, the Chairman, SME Group at Lagos Chamber of Commerce, Mr Daniel Okezie, said none of the applicants to the N50bn CBN COVID-19 facility got the loan despite meeting all the criteria.

Speaking on the matter, he said only five per cent of LCCI members’ applicants received another CBN loan for SMEs and agricultural businesses.

He said, “Most of our members were able to meet up with the conditions for both the COVID-19 SME loan and the CBN SME and agric loan that is still running now. Most of our members are qualified.

“We are trying to take it up with the NISRAL head in Lagos. The main requirement was that applicants must have had some kind of training on entrepreneurship and most of our members have that.

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