Institute of Empowerment and Strategy, IES, has accused banks in the country of frustrating the disbursement of the $6.5 billion empowerment fund to beneficiaries who have met the requirements to be empowered to start small scale businesses. Speaking at the business and global investment summit in Abuja, Director General of IES, Dr. Boniface Afifia-Oru, said that the banks were not making it easy for beneficiaries to access the funds available to them.
He added that the situation was worsened by the current policy on dollar transfer which posed a serious setback to the beneficiaries to receive the required funds from their headquarters in New York at a time. He explained that the money being paid in piecemeal as a result of the policy on dollar transfer was resulting in huge charges on different transfers that should have been done once as the money was distributed in months slowing down the whole process. According to him, the government has restored confidence and best practice in the financial sector, removal of bureaucratic bottlenecks especially at the ports and entrenchment of democratic governance, adding that the government has also provided a boisterous market, five-year tax holiday which has made it the lowest value added tax in sub-Sahara Africa.
To this end, he expressed hope that very soon, the first batch of people will begin to receive funds they have applied for as soon as the banks begin to disburse. “My own is to put the funds there as I have done. I do not disburse. It is now the duty of the beneficiaries to go to the banks they have been assigned to, open an account there so that they can track the usage of that money. It is not free money that anyone can just walk into the bank to access. It is a loan, so the banks must capture their own database to agree with all we have done,” he said.
Also speaking, President of Africa Development Bank, AFDB, Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, said that Nigeria’s economy has been adversely affected by external factors such as the fall in price of commodities particularly oil.