The Akwa Ibom state House of Assembly on Thursday passed into law a bill to establish the Akwa Ibom State Microfinance and Enterprise Development Agency.y
The Speaker of the assembly, Rt. Hon. (Barr) Onofiok Luke said the law will promote the development of micro, small, and medium enterprises in the state in line with the industrialization and sustainable development plan of the Akwa Ibom state government.
He commended the House committee on Commerce, Industry, and Tourism as well as the committees on Appropriation and Finance, Agriculture and Natural Resources, Economic Planning and Development, which worked on the bill after its second reading in July this year. Speaker Luke hailed the state executive for sending in the bill, saying this is in line with government’s determination to lay the groundwork for industrialization. He said SMEs are the fulcrum on which industrialization rests.
According to the report on the bill presented by the chairman, house committee on Commerce, Industry and Tourism, Hon. Mark Esset, the Akwa Ibom State Microfinance and Enterprise Development Agency will enable the state to access funds from various Central Bank of Nigeria intervention funds, multilateral agencies, and international finance institutions. Speaker Onofiok Luke observed also that the agency will play government’s key role in raising capital for lending to SMEs in the state, thereby building the capacity to operate successful business.
The report as read by Hon. Esset assured that the agency will help boost agro-based financing and also provide micro finance facilities on a short and long term basis. It will also provide guarantees to micro, small, and medium enterprise financing as may be expedient, while also providing infrastructure and capacity building for micro, small and medium enterprises. Before passing the law, the House gave clause by clause consideration to the bill and approved the committees’ recommendation of amendment to 33 Clauses.
The Speaker, after declaring the passage of the bill into law, urged Akwa Ibom people to always take advantage of the public hearings on every bill to make inputs to laws.
It would be recalled that on Wednesday, October 19, the House organised a public hearing on the bill. The hearing drew large turnouts of stakeholders from the public and the private sector such as Her Excellency, Obonganwan Imo Isemin who represented the Uyo Chambers of Commerce, the Senior Technical Assistant to the Governor on Technical Matters ad Due Process, Elder Ufot Ebong, a representative of CBN, a representative of Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency of Nigeria, SMEDAN, a representative of Ministry of Commerce and Industry, General Manager, GUFAX Bank, General Manager of Akwa Savings and Loans Limited, Bureau of Cooperative, MD/CEO Daystar Capital Limited, among others. The participants made both oral and written contributions.