The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), has urged industrialists and businessmen in Nigeria to take advantage of its low interest loans to grow their businesses. The Branch Controller of CBN in Enugu, Mr. Emmanuel Iweala, made the call at an Open Membership Forum organised by the Enugu Chamber of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (ECCIMA) in Enugu on Wednesday. Iweala said the aspect of offering loans to finance and grow businesses through its development financing intervention schemes was backed by Section 31 of the CBN Act (2007). “CBN has made available different financial schemes by which individuals, corporate bodies and state governments can easily access after meeting certain criteria that have well been simplified. “The loans under the available schemes have an interest rate of just nine per cent payable within one to seven years tenure as the case maybe,” he said. The branch Controller mentioned some of its financial intervention schemes to include Agricultural Credit Guarantee Scheme Fund (ACGSF), Micro Small and Medium Development Fund and Commercial Agricultural Credit Scheme. Others, he said, are the Anchors Borrowers Programme, Youth Enterprise Development Programme (YEDP) and Agric-business/Small and Medium Enterprise Investment Scheme (AG-SMEIS). “The Anchors Borrowers Programme, the AG-SMEIS, the Micro Small and Medium Enterprises Development Fund and YEDP schemes are most beneficial and favourable to businessmen. “For example, ECCIMA only needs to key into the Anchors Borrowers Programme, identify a crop of its members who can grow and thereafter, access a loan of up to N40b. “In Enugu, a total of 9, 907 farmers in 2018 have only been able to access just N2b out of the scheme’s capital base of N40b. “The present state government has not fully utilized the N200b available to it under the Commercial Agricultural Credit Scheme (CACS). The Central Bank of Nigeria head office in Abuja. “It was only former Governor Sullivan Chime’s administration that accessed N1b under the CACS scheme before leaving office,” he said. The financial expert explained that the AG-SMEIS loan was strictly to finance Small and Medium Enterprises (SME) with just a five per cent interest rate. According to him, N60b is available for industrialists under the AG-SMEIS and has also been largely under utilized by businessmen due to lack of awareness of the availability of the scheme. Iweala opined that if the loans made available to individuals, State and corporate bodies were fully accessed and utilized, it would bring about economic stimulation, diversification of agricultural products. He reiterated that CBN was keen to playing a key role in improving access to finance for entrepreneurship development. Speaking on behalf of the state government, the Commissioner for Commerce and Industry, Mr Sam Nwobodo, said the said the government of Enugu was ready to take steps that will allow business in the state to grow. Nwobodo, represented by the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Commerce, Dr Moses Otiji, said the state governor, Chief Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi was a business oriented man who was mindful of what it took to grow a business. Earlier, the President of ECCIMA, Mr Emeka Udeze pledged its commitment at providing an enabling environment for businesses to thrive. Udeze said the forum was organised by ECCIMA as part of its commitment to helping members grow their businesses through interaction with stakeholders in the finance, energy sector and leadership. “This forum will afford our members the opportunity to interact with experts whose services impacts the business sector. “They will be engaging experts from the Central Bank of Nigeria, Bank of Industry, Enugu Electricity Distribution Company, the Independent Electoral Commission (INEC) government and the Corporate Affairs Commission. “Through this interaction, members will make known the different challenges they are facing in their various businesses while the appropriate expert will give recommendations and the way out, and ECCIMA can then know when to come in,” he said. He pleaded with the state government to allow businesses grow first and be deeply rooted before imposing tax on them saying early imposition of double taxation killed business. The president noted that certain government policies discouraged potential businessmen and women and stunted the growth of already existing businesses. The Chief Strategy Officer of Enugu Electricity Distribution Company (EEDC), Mr Uttam Zalte, said the company was conscious of the role of constant electricity supply to grow businesses. Represented by EEDC’s Head of Communications, Mr Chukwuemeka Ezeh, said it was such feeling that has prompted EEDC to increase power supply to industrially concentrated areas. “We have dedicated power lines that supplies 20 hours electricity to industrial areas such as Agbani, Nnewi, Emene, Tollgate, Orba and 3-3 in Onitsha. “It is however, pathetic that as we strive to increase electricity supply to aid business growth, some customers are bent on frustrating this effort through non-payment of bills “EEDC supplies electricity load worth N4b monthly but only rakes in N3b and we will continue to operate within the limit of our finances,” Zalte said. RSSF: Supporting Real sector for poverty reduction In the same vein, the Resident Electoral Commission of INEC in Enugu State, Dr. Emeka Ononamadu, said the commission will continue to conduct credible elections reflective of the people’s wish. Ononamadu, who was represented by the Head, Electoral Procedures Department, Mr Joseph Ineji, urged the business community to support credible election that would produce business oriented leaders.