The Governor of Anambra State, Willie Obiano has assured the people of the state that he was with them as the current economic recession in the country bites harder even as he rolled out a carefully thought-out Economic Stimulus Package that would help the citizens cope with the shocks of the recession and plot their way back to prosperity.
Governor Obiano who delivered a Special Broadcast titled Rising from the Brinks in the Governor’s Lodge, Amawbia on Tuesday assured the people that “the government of Anambra State is fully aware of the difficulties you are going through in your families, in your businesses and in your various communities. I wish to assure you that you are not alone! My brothers and sisters, I feel your pain!”
The Governor further declared that his administration had made adequate arrangements to mount a serious pushback against recession saying that “after a careful study of the situation, I am more
convinced now than ever before that with our fundamentals, our infinite capacity to come back from deficits and our implicit faith in God, our story should be different in Anambra state.”
Governor Obiano consequently explained that his administration’s intervention would be in four key areas including Tax Relief Programme Special Intervention for SMEs and MSMEs and Large Enterprises, Social Intervention for Low Income Households and finally Social Intervention in Infrastructure-for-jobs.
Under the Tax Relief Programme, the Governor announced the suspension of so many revenue outlets that he considered burdensome on low income earners including the sale of consolidated emblems of the state, Hawkers Permit, Wheelbarrow Tax and unapproved levies in public primary and secondary schools in the state.
Under the Special Intervention Programme for SMEs and MSMEs and Large Enterprises, Governor Obiano explained that the popular Anambra Rice brand owes its origin to the adroit management of the N2bn Special SME fund given to states by the Central Bank of Nigeria.
According to him, sensing the imminent danger in the economic horizon of the country, his administration had established the Anambra Small Business Agency (ASBA) to manage the distribution of credit facilities to small businesses in the state.
Said he, “Ndi Anambra, although it may not be known to many people, the truth is that the famous Anambra Rice owes its growth to our intervention through ASBA. So many other manufacturers have also benefitted from this initiative”
He regretted that the small businesses in the state which he said accounted for over 800,000 jobs were seriously facing the threat of extinction due to the acute shortage in the supply of foreign exchange
and are left with the option of either scaling down their operations or shutting down completely.
Thanking the CBN for its support to the state’s throngs of entrepreneurs through the Special Funds for SMEs, Governor Obiano consequently announced that his administration was rolling out the sum of N3billion for lending to SMEs and MSMEs at 9 percent interest rate.
He also revealed that he would re-channel earlier accessed credit schemes from the Bank of Industry, Bank of Agriculture as well as the Commercial Agriculture Credit Scheme totalling about N1.5 billion to
support the productive sector, further emphasizing that ASBA would oversee the rigorous disbursement of the fund according to set standards.
The governor also offered useful insights into what his administration had done so far in a bid to ease off the pangs of recession on Low income Households and Vulnerable Groups saying that 300 people had been employed as Road Sweepers while 250 youths were engaged to rid the state of potholes.
He also pointed out that 500 people were employed into various positions in primary health centres across the state while 300 youths were engaged in the OCHA Brigade.
In addition, Obiano also announced a tuition-free education for the 11 vocational colleges in the state to ensure that youths acquire the necessary skills for survival.
According to him, to further deepen the impact of the administration on the vulnerable segment of the population, the state would provide automatic employment to all graduates of universities in Anambra State that are living with disabilities in the civil service.
This is in addition to the N3.6 billion fund designated to the choose-your-project for the 179 communities in the state that would be executed by the communities themselves under the supervision of the State Tenders Board.
Under the Intervention in Infrastructure component of the Stimulus Package, the governor said his strategy would be guided by identifying and prioritizing projects with huge economic impact that the state would execute to create employment for the people.
“We shall fund the development of 500 hectares of land in all agrarian communities across the three Senatorial Zones in the state to support out-grower schemes and link them up to big industries in the state,” the governor promised further disclosing that he would fund three Youth Empowerment Schemes in Fish farming, Garri and Ice processing clusters in the state for which the sum of N225m had been earmarked.
In addition, the state has also earmarked the sum of N300 million to fund vegetable production and beef up its famous Vegetable Export Programme to the UK and other parts of the world.
Emphasizing his administration’s plan to go into partnership with serious investors on viable infrastructural projects that would boost economic activities in the state, Governor Obiano expressed optimism that Anambra has “the manpower, the material resources as well as the willpower to turn the looming despair and desperation to hope and prosperity for all.”