Following its inability to disburse $160m job creation funding provided by the World Bank, the Federal Government has sought for a 12 month extension to enable it to fully implement the project known as Growth and Employment in States. The objective of the GEMS project is to accelerate growth and employment in participating states.
Under the project being supervised by Ministry of Finance and implemented by the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment, grants are given to deserving Small and Medium-scale Enterprises to support growth and employment.
Although the project is supposed to come to an end on Friday, only N3.7bn representing about 7.58 per cent of the fund (N48.8bn) has been disbursed within the period of five years that the implementation of the project began.
Some of the fund, at least $8.5m, has been expended on securing training for potential beneficiaries, consultancy services and on procuring personnel for the project. Given the failure of the government to implement the project, some potential beneficiaries who had been trained and kept on standby for the fund had planned a demonstration in Abuja on Wednesday.
However, the planned demonstration leaked and the government mobilised to prevent it from taking place, with a promise that efforts were on to secure a grace period for the implementation of the project from the World Bank.
One of the people who worked on stopping the demonstration was Rita Nduonofit, a GEMS participant, who is also waiting to get the fund she applied for to boost her French fries’ business.
She confirmed to one of our correspondents in Abuja that she worked on aborting the planned demonstration in order to avoid anything that could jeopardise the granting of an extension by the World Bank.
In a message to some of her colleagues on Tuesday night, which was obtained by one of our correspondents, Nduonofit appealed to them to seek a new strategy in order to achieve desirable results.
She stated, “I am on two GEM groups and we were never informed of the protest nor made any contributions towards it and we would have loved to do that.
“At this point, I would like to appeal to us to stand down for now. I have been to the World Bank, called the World Bank Head Office and visited the Ministry and have been told an extension of the project would be granted as soon as possible.”
One of our correspondents sighted a letter signed by a Director in the Ministry of Finance to the World Bank seeking a 12-month implementation extension.
In a response to enquiries by our correspondents, the World Bank office in Nigeria said through Funke Olufon that it is currently in discussions with the Federal Government regarding the extension of the project’s closing date, adding that any update on agreed decisions could be obtained from the Federal Government.
However, it was learnt that instead of the 12-month extension being sought by the government, six months might be granted.
In addition, he said that over 21,191 Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises had received technical assistance from the government under the GEMS project. Daniels stated, “A total of N3.7bn has been disbursed to 910 grantees via the grant windows. Over 21,191 MSMEs have received technical assistance.
A government official with knowledge of the project told one of our correspondents in confidence that many of the participants in the scheme misunderstood the intention of the programme when it started. The official said the project was conceived in a manner that would enable participants to benefit from what he described as monetary and non-monetary rewards. https://punchng.com/fg-seeks-one-year-extension-of-wbanks-160m-job-creation-fund