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Experts query FG’s N179b for ranching, only N1b for fashion entrepreneurs

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Following recent approval by the National Economic Council (NEC) for the development of 94 ranches in 10 states with the sum of N170bn and the idea by the Bank of Industry (BoI) to support Fashion Entrepreneurs with N1bn, development economists and public affairs analysts have been raising questions.

Whereas Mr. Yinka Odumakin, spokesman of Afenifere socio-cultural group queried why whooping N179bn taxpayers’ money would be used to establish private businesses of a very tiny segment of the society, a development economist, Dr. Ken Igboanugo wishes to know what impact N1bn can make in the world of millions of fashion business operators in Nigeria.

Both analysts see the development as clear misplacement of priorities as whereas the scheme with the highest approval does not create jobs as massive as fashion entrepreneurship, the later got what cannot be enough to go round.

Odumakin who met with members of the Southern and Middle Belt Leaders Forum (SMBLF), made it clear that ranching is a private business and cannot be driven by public money.

The forum averred that cattle rearing is a private business, and as such, government should not spend N178bn public funds to establish ranches for herdsmen who the forum said “are private businessmen without a record of paying taxes.”

The forum stated this in a statement on Wednesday in response to the declaration by the National Economic Council that the government had approved a 10-year National Livestock Plan which would cost about N179bn.

About N70bn of the budget will be disbursed between now and the expiration of  President Muhammadu Buhari’s first tenure in 2019 for the establishment of ranches in Oyo, Benue, Nasarawa and seven other states.

The SMBLF in its statement co-signed by Yinka Odumakin for South-West region, Senator Bassey Henshaw (South-South), Prof. Chigozie Ogbu (South-East) and Dr Isuwa Dogo (Middle Belt), however, commended the government for embracing ranching for herders.

It explained that the 2014 National Conference had reasoned out the issue and recommended ranching as being done in all civilised countries.

“The decision to ignore this sensible recommendation has led to a situation where untold terror has been unleashed on farming communities with needless loss of hundreds of lives in the last three years with not a soul under prosecution and top functionaries of the administration making excuses for the killers.

“We, however, object to the FG’s decision to spend N179bn of public funds to build these ranches over 10 years starting with N70bn under this administration,” the forum said.

Another expert in development economics, Mrs. Ann Inyang expressed worries on how the N170b will be recovered by the government. She expressed concerns on the number of jobs a ranch will generate in the long run when compared with other fast returning businesses that are yawing for government support.

Efforts made by Business Hilights Intelligence Unit (BHIU) to find out the terms and condition to be met by cattle herders or owners would be met before getting the funding or having access to any of the ranch to be established failed.

However, the Bank of Industry (BoI) says it has set aside N1 billion to support fashion entrepreneurs in Nigeria. According to the bank, interested parties must be involved in the production and marketing of fashion items like clothes, handbags, shoes, jewellery and other fashion accessories. Naira The bank also said it will support ‘initiatives that can improve financial literacy and industrial entrepreneurship development for players in the fashion industry’.

A notice posted on the bank’s website said only companies owned/promoted by Nigerians, and specifically, limited liability companies will be considered.

The maximum amount that a person can receive is N30 million. Interested parties are required to pay one percent appraisal fee, one percent commitment fee, 0.125 percent monitoring fee, and 9 percent per annum, payable at the end of every month. The loan tenure is five years and it is payable from a maximum period of 12 months from the date of loan disbursement.

Other conditions listed are: Security arrangement: Lien on stock of trade and items of equipment. For Collateral/Support, you are expected to deposit 5 percent of the loan amount in an interest yielding joint account opened by the company with a designated bank with BoI as a sole signatory, notarised statement of net worth of two guarantors, and strong and reliable monthly net cash flows that can support monthly loan repayment at ratio three to one.

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