Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Governor Godwin Emefiele has urged the financial institutions in the country to fund operators of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs), so as to achieve financial inclusiveness.

Emefiele made the call at the ongoing 11th Annual Banking and Finance Conference organised by the Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria (CIBN) on Tuesday in Abuja, with the theme“MSMEs:The Game Changer for Economic Growth and Development.”

The CBN governor further urged the participants to consider the constructive ways to support MSMEs in the country to enable them to perform the essential roles of enhancing economic growth and inclusive development.

“Our task at this conference is to debate and deliberate constructively on the ways to further support MSMEs in Nigeria to be able to perform their essential role of enhancing economic growth and inclusive development.

“ The CBN has done so much in the area of de-risking the MSME sub-sector by providing funds for lending to the sector.

“ It is now up to us the financial intermediaries in the economy to support and complement this effort and turn around the fortunes of MSMEs and the economy at large.

“I am confident that with the calibre of participants here present we shall come to a win-win conclusion. I wish to encourage us all to participate actively in this debate.”

According to the governor, CBN has developed many programmes to reduce the risk of lending to MSMEs, stressing the need to channel more funds to the sub-sector to enable it to create jobs for unemployed youths.

He listed some of the intervention programmes by the apex bank to include MSME Development Fund; Small and Medium Enterprise Creative Guarantee Scheme, National Collateral Registry, and Entrepreneurship Development Centre.

Emefiele described the National Collateral Registry as a financial infrastructure introduced to support the crippling market by enabling micro-enterprises to use their movable assets as collateral for bank loans.

“Since the commencement of active cooperation in May 2016, 552 financial institutions have registered 32,645 financing statements valid at over N688.35 billion, 33.4 million dollars and 6 billion euros on the platform.

“I am very optimistic that the collateral registry will have tremendous impacts on MSME lending in Nigeria and in the foreseeable future.

“This is especially considering the recent launching of the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan which intends to leverage on the power of the private sector in its economic recovery and transformative growth by prioritising all MSMEs in all critical sectors as a significant source of long-term growth.”

In his remarks, the President and Chairman, CIBN, Dr Uche Olowu, emphasised the need to address the constraints militating against the contributions of MSMEs to the economy.

“Truly, MSMEs should be the game changer given their potential and expected contribution in an emerging or developing economy.

“However, they are constrained by varied factors. Eighty per cent maintain that access to finance remain their major challenge. They pay high tax rates of almost 30 per cent.

“In addition to lack of finance and high tax regime, they are further burdened by conflicting and duplicated regulatory and other supervisory and government agencies.

“For instance, to run a restaurant, you must comply with the demands and rules of over 10 agencies from federal, state and local government.

“Even though we have made little progress in the global ranking in Ease of Doing Business, Nigerian business environment still remains very challenging,” he said.

Olowu commended the efforts of the Federal Government and its agencies towards creating an enabling environment for MSMEs in the country to thrive.

He, however, stressed the need for innovative approaches to mitigate MSME challenges in the country.

News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that stakeholders and representatives of government agencies and various financial institutions attended the conference and pledged support to MSME development in the country.