How we ameliorate effects of COVID-19 on SMEs - Sanwo-Olu

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Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu

How we ameliorate effects of COVID-19 on SMEs - Sanwo-Olu
Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos

Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu at the weekend said his administration had been at the forefront of ameliorating the effects of COVID-19 through various palliatives to Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs).

The governor spoke at the at the International Day of Cooperative Society, held at the Lagos State Cooperative Federation (LASCOFED) Complex, Ogba, Lagos, on Saturday.

“The theme of this year’s celebration is very apt as it speaks to the need for all hands to be on deck to fast track the process of reversing the negative effects of COVID-19 on the economy.

“This is most applicable to us in Lagos state, being the epicenter of the pandemic in Nigeria. Although, the impact of the pandemic is widespread and cut across all sectors in the economy,” he said.

According to Sanwo-Olu, there is no doubt about the fact that SMEs, within which most cooperative businesses fall, are among the most affected, especially as a result of the long weeks of lockdown.

Sanwo-Olu added that in order to ameliorate the devastating effects of COVID-19, his administration rolled out series of palliative measures to support SMEs in the state.

“These are measures to improve on businesses and facilitate the recovery process. These measures are being implemented through relevant government agencies, especially the Lagos State Employment Trust Fund.

“In recognition of the active roles played by cooperative societies in our economy, particularly in the areas of promoting brotherhood, good neighborliness, economic freedom and realisation, our government has facilitated series of programmes.

“These programmes are aimed at encouraging more people to imbibe the spirit of cooperation and be active participants in both formal and informal sectors of our economy.

“I enjoin residents of the state to embrace best practices in the management of cooperatives and deepen their collaboration with the state government in order to take full advantage of opportunities being provided in critical sectors, including agriculture,” he said.

Speaking at the event, Commissioner for Commerce, Industry and Cooperatives, Dr Lola Akande, said part of the achievements of the ministry was the consolidation of the asset base of its cooperative societies to over N33 billion.

The 2021 international day, with the theme:  “Rebuilding Better Together”, is the 27th edition of the event.

Highlighting the giant strides of the government in the cooperative movement, Akande said the support towards the movement remained of paramount interest.

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“Some of the achievements of the cooperative movement in the state worthy of mention include the fact that the asset base of cooperatives in the state has passed the N33 billion mark.

“Another fact is that the cooperative department is now completely digitised in its operations, leading to greater efficiency and effectiveness of services rendered.

“Registration of cooperative societies can now be done online and the process can be tracked,” she said.

Akande said the ministry was working towards positioning the cooperative movement to solve the housing deficit in the state.

“In addition, the ministry is working with the cooperative movement to form a Cooperative Housing Association, such that cooperatives are better positioned to access funds domiciled with the family housing fund.

“We are also collaborating with the National Cooperative Financing Agency of Nigeria (CIFAN) on the establishment of the Cooperative Share Exchange (CSE), a platform for trading securities applicable to the cooperative society.

“The platform will list and trade cooperative society stocks only. Already, we have witnessed a number of events showcasing the contributions of the cooperative society in the state to the economic and social growth of the people.

“Our achievement in cooperative society would not have been possible without the enabling environment created by the Governor of Lagos State, Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu,” she said.

The President, LASCOFED, Mr Oladipo Shobule commended the various policies put in place by the government towards economic recovery, adding that there were, however, more grounds to be covered.

“I appreciate the Economic Sustainability Committee led by the Vice President, Prof.  Yemi Osinbajo for the various economic recovery initiatives.

“I will also like to call the attention of the Lagos state government to the National Housing Programme for which the government is expected to provide land, while the Federal Government builds.

“As a group, the cooperative movement in Lagos state is interested in this programme and, therefore, wished to use this medium to request for allocation of 50 acres of land to LASCOFED in any part of the state,”  he said.