THE Federal Government on Tuesday directed the immediate re-opening of the National Economic Reconstruction Fund (NERFUND) almost one week after it was shut.
The Minister of Finance, Mrs Kemi Adeosun, gave the directive in a statement issued by the Director of information in the ministry, Mr Salisu Dambata.
The minister in the statement directed all members of staff of the agency to return to their duty posts immediately as the crisis within the organisation has been resolved.
The statement reads in part, “The Minister of Finance, Mrs Kemi Adeosun has directed all staff of the NERFUND to immediately return to their duty posts as the crisis within the organisation has been resolved.”
Before last week’s closure, the agency had been experiencing crisis over allegations of mismanagement of funds running into about N700m.
The crisis led to a protest by the workers which paralysed business activities for almost a week at the agency.
Following the protest, the Federal Government had through the Ministry of Finance set up a committee to investigate the allegations of corruption leveled against the interim management of the agency.
There had been fears that the shutdown may jeopardise the recovery of loans totaling about N7bn given out by the agency to individuals and businesses.
NERFUND was established in 1989 to provide medium to long-term financing to viable Small and Medium scale production enterprises to increase the quantity of goods and services available for local consumption and export, provide needed employment, expand our production base and add value to the economy.
According to the finance ministry, the agency had extended credit facilities for 2, 829 projects valued N9.5bn between 1989 and 1999.
Meanwhile, Adeosun on Tuesday said that a total sum of N7.4bn had been disbursed as grants to 1,500 beneficiaries of the third edition of the Youth Enterprise with Innovation in Nigeria programme.
Of this amount, the minister said that the sum of N1.68bn was paid as grants to 638 YouWin awardees in the month of June alone.
She said, “The third edition of the programme, which is still running with 1,500 beneficiaries, has received the sum of N11.2bn in funding, and so far grants totaling N7.4bn have been disbursed to the awardees.
“In June 2016 alone, the sum of N1.687bn was paid to 638 awardees.”
The finance minister said as part of the reforms being carried out by the government, the YouWin programme would be restructured to ensure efficiency, transparency and accountability in investing the capital grants given to the beneficiaries by the Federal Government.
She reaffirmed that all the federal government commitments under the YouWIN programme would be fully met.
Adeosun, however, noted that due diligence would be carried out on every beneficiary, using tools like the Bank Verification Number before further disbursements would be made.