Within a four-year period covering 2014 to 2018, over $1bn was lost by the country to Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises-related corruption, a report released on Wednesday in Abuja has revealed.
The report titled “Stolen dreams: How corruption negates government assistance to Nigeria’s small businesses” was produced by the Carnegie Endowment International Peace in collaboration with the Open Society Initiative for West Africa.
The key findings of the report were presented by the Lead Partner, Sustainable Entrepreneurship and Economic Development Initiative, Mr Celestine Okeke.
Based on the Central Bank official rate of N306 to a dollar, the $1bn translates into about N306bn.
The report said the N306bn lost to MSME-related corruption exceeds Nigeria’s capital expenditure on health and education combined for the four years period covering 2014 to 2018.
It said the N306bn lost by the country includes missing and unaccounted funds disbursed to small businesses through legislators’ constituency projects, the Cassava Bread Initiative and the various loans schemes such as the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises Development Fund and the Agriculture Credit Guarantee Scheme.
The report reads in part, “Corruption is endemic within Nigerian government agencies meant to help MSMEs. Relative to their high costs, these agencies programmes appear to help very few people.
“Instead they are set up to fail, eroding trust in government and functioning as conduits for embezzlement, contract fraud, deliberate waste and the distribution of political patronage.
“Exacerbated by mismanagement and broader policy failures, this form of corruption has disproportionately high multiplier effects.
It inflicts lasting damage and opportunity costs on a sector that employs 84 per cent of Nigerian workers and contributes about 50 per cent to Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product.
“Though difficult to calculate, MSME -related corruption has likely siphoned over $1bn from Nigerian state coffers between 2014 and 2018.”
By Dominic C. Odoh
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