The Federal Government has formally requested for the extension of the tenor of the World Bank-assisted $160 million job creation grant by 12 months due to its inability to fully implement the Growth and Employment in States (GEMS) projects.
The objective of the GEMS project, which is being supervised by the Ministry of Finance and implemented by the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment, is to accelerate growth and boost job creation in the participating states.
To achieve the objectives, grants are given to Micro Small and Medium-scale Enterprises (MSMEs) to optimize their operations and by so doing, empowered to offer jobs to the unemployed in states where they are located.
According to the implementation schedule of the GEMS projects, the project was slated to end on Friday.
However, available information on the implementation so far indicated that about N3.7 billion of the N48.8 billion fund had been disbursed since the project’s implementation started about five years ago.
According to the official figures on the disbursements, about $8.5 million had been disbursed on the training of potential beneficiaries, consultancy services and on procuring personnel for the project.
It was reliably gathered that the inability of the government to implement the project led some potential beneficiaries, who had been trained, to stage a demonstration publicly yesterday in Abuja over government’s failure to provide funding to them on their trained vocations and businesses.
However, it was also learnt that government got wind of the planned demonstration and aborted it, pledging that efforts were being made to secure an extension of timeline of the GEMS project’s implementation from the World Bank.
According to information on how government intended to secure the World Bank’s approval for extension of the programme implementation, a director in the Ministry of Finance was reported to have communicated the World Bank asking for government’s 12-month implementation extension.
The World Bank office in Nigeria was also reported to be discussing with the government on its request for the extension of the project’s implementation timeline.
The Strategy and Communications Adviser, Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment, Mr. Bisi Daniels, was quoted as confirming that a total sum of N3.7 billion had been disbursed to 910 beneficiaries under the project so far.
Specifically, Daniels disclosed that so far, 21,191 MSMEs had received technical assistance since the implementation of the GEMS project commenced.
He clarified: “A total of N3.7bn has been disbursed to 910 grantees via the grant windows. Over 21,191 MSMEs have received technical assistance. A total of 1,457 applicants have received training, with 968 applicants receiving online training and 487 applicants receiving face to face training.”