19th September, 2011
The Lagos State government has set up an empowerment programme for artisans and tradesmen in order to boost economic activities in the state.
Disclosing this at the end of this yearâ€™s annual Tradesmen and Artisans Week celebration organised by the state government, the state Commissioner for Commerce and Industry, Mrs. Olusola Senapon Oworu, explained that the gesture was a confirmation of governmentâ€™s interest in the progress of artisans and tradesmen, who, according to her, account for a substantial percentage of the total employment in the state.
According to Mrs. Oworu, the Lagos State Tradesmen and Artisans Empowerment Programme (LASTEAP) is made up of the stateâ€™s Tradesmen and Artisans Equipment Acquisition Scheme through which they can procure equipment with the help of the state government.
The programme also contains capacity building for the artisans and tradesmen just as it has the Tradesmen and Artisans Welfare Insurance Scheme and the Tradesmen and Artisans Identification Scheme, which would help them insure their businesses and get them registered with the state government.
The commissioner, while addressing the tradesmen and artisans, said: â€œThe ministry shall ensure that this programme is successfully implemented because we know it would have a multiplier effect on employment generation.
â€œThe state government intends to leverage on the potential of the sector to promote youth employment, alleviate poverty and engender economic growth.
She stressed that since the maiden edition of the celebration, the Ministry of Commerce and Industry has deemed it necessary to develop and pursue programmes that would add value to activities in the informal sector.
â€œSo much is being done to support our artisans through the provision of functional accommodation and work spaces, linkage to sources of affordable credits, training and capacity building and marketing opportunities through our Yellow Pages.
She said the government was aware that majority of the artisans do not have collateral to secure loans from banks and has decided to collaborate with some institutions to assist in this regard.
Speaking at the event, the president of the state Council of Tradesmen and Artisans, Engr. Bola Sanusi, said members of the council makes up 60 per cent of the overall population of Lagos State, adding that the body has 369 registered trade associations.
He listed the challenges of the council to include refusal of tradesmen to either belong to a registered body or obey the regulations of the body, high tariffs and levies by government officials on trade permits, non-accessibility of members to loan facilities and where available, such loans are given at high interest rates and inadequate supply of electricity.
He appealed to the government to always set aside a percentage of the annual budget for the development of tradesmen and artisans who have duly registered and belong to associations.
He made a case for the â€œprovision of micro-credit and hire purchase facilities to members of registered trade associations”.
The ministry gave awards to deserving associations.