By Khalid Idris Doya
Bauchi state has recorded a total of 33,309 beneficiaries under the five tracks of the Guaranteed Offtake Scheme (GOS) of the Federal Government with products secured from micro and small businesses, with the completion period of three months.
The Minister of State for Industry, Trade and Investment, Hajiya Maryam Yelwaji Katagum who disclosed this at the town-hall meeting of the MSME Survival Fund and Guaranteed Off-Take Scheme in Bauchi yesterday, said after the three months’ period of completion, the products would be handed over to the state government for distribution to both public and private institutions.
Maryam who was represented by the Director-General of the Industrial Training Fund (ITF), Sir Joseph Ari gave the five tracks of the scheme as Payroll Support Track – 13, 645, General MSME Grants Track – 1,920, Artisan and Transport Support Track – 8,944, Formalization Support Track – 6,606 and Guaranteed Offtake Scheme – 2,194.
She explained that under the scheme in Bauchi state, despite receiving 30% mobilization, 778 MSMEs failed to deliver the items they bid to supply, thereby breaching their contract with the Federal government and this disqualified them from receiving the balance of their payment.
“Today, some of those MSMEs who successfully delivered products under the GOS will be awarded Certificates of Commendation from the Federal Government for their participation”.
Minister recalled that at the national level a total of 19,928 MSMEs that were paid the initial mobilization of 30% failed to supply the items, thereby negating the bonds they signed with the Federal Government.
To this end, the Minister of state for Industry, Trade and Investment, Ambassador Maryam Yelwaji Katagum directed the appropriate agencies to commence the process of recovering such monies and possibly prosecuting the defaulters, as they have blocked the chances of other MSMEs that would have benefited from the Scheme.
“On behalf of the Federal Government I wish to appreciate the effort and commitment of MSMEs across the country who participated in the successful implementation of the GOS which required the supply of offtake items. I also wish to commend them for their integrity in completing their contracts under the Scheme despite the rising cost of production”.
Minister also enumerated the challenges encountered during implementation of the scheme which included initial lack of trust by the beneficiaries as participation in the scheme involved supplying personal details including BVN.
Others are the high rate of apathy by Nigerians to the government intervention programmes due to the wrong impression that one needs to know someone to benefit, and reliance on use of ICT and internet connectivity which left the program susceptible to infiltration by internet scammers.
She however said that notwithstanding the challenges encountered, the GOS enjoyed tremendous support from various state governments that provided warehouses and logistics to ensure a hitch-free exercise, as well as cooperation and support in other tracks of the scheme provided by the Business Membership Organizations (BMOS).
Bauchi state commissioner for cooperatives and SME development Sa’adatu Bello Kirfi had in a goodwill message during the occasion, noted that the concept of the programme is to empower small and Medium enterprises through patronizing their goods and services in order to boost the economy locally.
“The Programme is also one of the stages under the SME survival Funds Programme through the Industrial Training Funds (ITF) that serve as aggregator and finance by the Federal Government anchored by the Federal Ministry of Trade and Investment”.
The commissioner told the meeting that the present administration of Senator Bala Mohammed is committed and ready to collaborate/partner with the Federal Government at all levels in supporting and encouraging the state teeming youths to take advantage of such opportunities so as to be self-reliant and become more productive.