Bayelsa state Government in collaboration with the Organized Private Sector, (0PS) at the weekend in Lagos mapped out economic plans aimed at encouraging Small and medium scale entrepreneurs through the raising of N10bn Trust Fund.
Presenting the economic blueprint of his administration at the pre-event luncheon with business stakeholders ahead of the 20th International Conference on Small and Medium Enterprises scheduled to hold in Yenagoa, Governor Dickson said this has became imperative noting the recent economic downturn in the country.
Stressing the need for the promotion of the SMEs, Hon. Dickson said the recent economic depression is an eye opener, adding that some States of the federation are presently finding it difficult to meet their financial obligations.
Hon. Dickson said his administration has foreseen this situation that is why it always harped on diversification of the economy from the oil and gas sector.
Allaying fears over management of the fund, the Governor disclosed that it would be managed by the OPS, adding that, ” I have encouraged the land and property owners in the State to apply for Certificate of Occupancy. This will enable them to access this fund, which will be managed by the financial institutions.
“We are not here to raise fund. I am not known for that, rather we are here as Government to partner with the members of the Organized Private Sector on how to raise this amount. We have our own role to play as Government. Out of this amount, we will contribute 40 percent while the OPS will source for 60 percent even more.
“The beneficiaries, especially the title holders after presentation of the C of O will have the opportunity to access this fund after a thorough screening.
Calling for the active participation of local and foreign investors in the economic development of the State, the Governor urged the investors to avail themselves of the business opportunities that abound in the State.
He said the State is endowed with natural resources that if properly harnessed is enough to turn the economy of the entire Country around.
“We are doing a lot of urban regeneration. Already we have surveyed 20,000 hectares of land for the proposed new Yenagoa city which a one stop entertainment and residential area and in the next two months, the Castle hotel will be opened to the public.
Also work is in progress on the Golf Estate and the Airport. When these projects are completed it will open a vista of opportunities for the people in the State.
Stressing the need for partnership, the Governor explained that, investors could partner with the Government in the areas of agriculture and aqua culture, tourism, waste management, housing and the development of a deep seaport at Agge in Ekeremor Local Government Area of the State.
Explaining further on the Deep seaport, the Governor said as part of its sensitization programmes, his administration would organize a special road show within and outside the Country on the project.
Earlier in his address, the Senior Special Assistant to the Governor on SMEs, Dr. Ebiekure Eradiri told the investors to avail themselves of the business opportunities that abound in the State.
He disclosed that all the Local Government Areas of the State have business potentials that can be tapped into.
Dr. Eradiri stated that most of the Bayelsa State products especially oil palm are gaining ground in markets nationwide.
He said the Bayelsa SMEs brand line has been developed to further promote its products such as agro allied products, seafood, textile, luxury goods and engineering, (fabrication).
In his goodwill message, Dr. Peter Bamkole of the Pan Atlantic University, Lagos, commended the one Local Government, one product initiative of the administration which, he noted keys into the NADEP programme of the Federal Government.
He advised the State Government to step up its economic policy in developing value added chain of its products.
Speaking on behalf of the members of the OPS, the President of Ijaw Professionals Association, Denzel Ketebe lauded the economic policy of the present administration and pledged the support of members of the OPS in the realization of its lofty objectives, especially making the State to become Dubai of Africa.
Bayelsa State Government Press Release