House of Representatives Probes Bank of Industry Over Unrecovered COVID-19 Grants

The House of Representatives Public Accounts Committee has intensified its scrutiny of the Bank of Industry regarding the unaccounted-for micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) offtake grants disbursed to 19,538 Nigerians to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.

During a hearing in Abuja on Tuesday, as part of the ongoing investigation into the alleged mismanagement of COVID-19 intervention funds by various Ministries, Departments, and Agencies (MDAs), the committee demanded relevant documentation from the bank concerning all disbursements.

Represented by the Executive Director of Small and Medium Enterprises, Mr. Omar Shekarau, the Managing Director of the Bank of Industry, Mr. Olasupo Olusi, faced intense questioning from the committee. They sought clarification on the management of the COVID-19 fund, which the bank administered on behalf of the Ministry of Trade and Industry and the National Export Promotion Council.

Omar Shekarau disclosed that the bank had received N75 billion on behalf of the Ministry of Trade and Industry. He outlined the allocation of funds across various tracks, including payroll support, general MSME grants, artisan and transport support, MSME offtake, and formalization support through the Corporate Affairs Commission.

However, concerns were raised regarding the failure of 19,538 beneficiaries to fulfill their obligations under the Guaranteed Offtake Scheme after receiving a 30 percent mobilization fee, thereby breaching their contract with the Federal Government. Shekarau highlighted that the beneficiaries encompassed artisans, transporters, small business owners, as well as private and public school staff.

In response to queries about the recovery mechanism for the MSME offtake, Shekarau indicated that the Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency is responsible for loan recovery.

Despite the committee’s insistence on obtaining relevant documents from the bank, the refusal to provide immediate access led to a unanimous decision for the agency to submit all necessary documentation without further delay.


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