The Bank of Industry (BoI) and the Ebonyi State Government are to collaborate in a N4 billion matching funds to enhance the fortunes of civil servants in the state through agricultural activities. A statement from the bank in Lagos disclosed that the agro-based fund was coming on the heels of a N4 billion MSME Matching Fund activated in July 2017. Mr Olukayode Pitan, Managing Director of BoI, noted that the fund was to develop and promote entrepreneurship, boost agriculture and its value chain businesses in the state. He also noted that the fund would create a solid future for both MSMEs and the State’s civil servants who were the engine room for the execution of state policies and programmes. According to him, the fund is being offered at five per cent and 6.2 per cent for medium term (3 years to 5 years) and working capital financing respectively, with moratorium periods of three to 12 months.
Pitan commended the harmonious working relationship of the bank and the State’s Implementation Committee (SIC) in identifying viable MSMEs across the 13 local government councils of the state. “So far, the Bank has approved a total of 34 loans valued at over N206 million to MSMEs in the state under the Matching Fund. “In addition, the Bank has also approved and granted loans worth over N3.17 billion (N1.81 billion disbursed) from its direct funds to 22 other businesses in Ebonyi State,” he said. Pitan said that the sectors supported included rice milling and processing, quarry and solid minerals, food processing, roofing sheet production, water bottling and packaging, mattresses and foam production and metal fabrication.
He said that BoI also impacted the economy of the state through Federal Government’s social security scheme – Government Enterprise and Empowerment Programme (GEEP)- targeted at traders and artisans. According to him, the bank supports 2,525 beneficiaries to the tune of N126.22 million. In his remarks, Gov. Dave Umahi of Ebonyi, said that Ebonyi was the pioneer of an initiative aimed at improving the lives of civil servants across the country. He noted that proffering solution to the low and erratic earnings of civil servants ought to be addressed as a national issue, and that if civil servants were rich, the nation would be rich.
“I get so bothered about the issues of civil servants in the country, because their take home cannot match market forces and yet many states in our federation cannot pay this meagre salary to civil servants,” he said. He assured civil servants that the fund would be ready to be assessed from this month, adding that the Constitution permits civil servants to engage in agriculture.