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Senators, BoI differ over loans’ beneficiaries, SMEs’ allocations

Some members of the Senate Committee on Industry on Wednesday disagreed with the Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of the Bank of Industry, Olukayode Pitan, over the choice of the bank’s loans beneficiaries across the country.

Pitan appeared before the committee to defend its 2021 budget.

There was, however, a mild drama when the Managing Director of BOI claimed that the commercial banks determine the loan beneficiaries.

He explained that the loans were secured through guarantees provided by commercial banks on behalf of the beneficiaries.

Not comfortable with the submission of Pitan, Senators Adamu Bulkachuwa, Christopher Ekpenyong and Danjuma La’ah feigned ignorance of the activities of the bank in their senatorial districts.

Danjuma said, “I don’t know what is going on concerning Bank of Industry activities in my senatorial district.”

In his own reaction, Ekpenyong in noted that most of his constituents were finding it difficult to access loans from the bank.

He alleged that some commercial banks were not guaranteeing the loans requests of his constituents.

Bulkachuwa on his part said, “The MD/CEO, you said you were not in the position to know exactly where these loans are going to, with regards to the geopolitical areas of the country.

“Does it mean that the Bank of Industry is not interested in knowing where the loans are going to and where the actual beneficiaries are located in the country? We are interested in knowing where those loans go to.

“You, the giver of the loan should be more interested in the loan and where each kobo you give out is going and which part of the country is benefiting.

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“Our interest is to know how the bank of industry is performing its duty in terms of ensuring that industries are spread across the country.”

Pitan, however, insisted that commercial banks determine the beneficiaries, adding that the BoI had details of the processes.

The MD said, “It is a requirement every month for the bank of industry to provide the document. We know exactly where our money is.”

Meanwhile, the Chairman of the Committee, Senator Tokunbo Abiru expressed dissatisfaction concerning the meagre allocation to the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises who he said, were the real driver of the economy in the 2021 budget.

The Bank of Industry in the 2021 budget released N165bn to large enterprises in the country while the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises benefited N40bn as of September, 2021.

But Pitan said most people at the SME’s level were not ready to repay the loan believing that the money was government money which they do not have to pay back.

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