The Lagos State Government has said the state’s N25bn State Employment Trust Fund will cater for only the unemployed and aspiring entrepreneurs who are resident in Lagos.
The Commissioner of Economic Planning and Budget, Lagos State, Mr. Akinyemi Ashade, in an interview with our correspondent, however said the fund, which is geared towards addressing youths unemployment and promoting wealth creation through entrepreneurial development, would be available to all tribes.
According to Ashade, this is the government’s way of intervening in employment generation and getting Lagosians jobs.
When asked if the scheme was open to every unemployed in Lagos, Ashade stated, “It is open to Lagosians because this is Lagos State. Lagosians, no matter tribe, religion or party affiliation, are the people we are focusing on. The government is to serve Lagosians, no matter their party affiliations.”
He added, “What we have realised is that if we don’t restrict it to Lagosians and people that are resident in Lagos, who we can identify through Lagos residents registration database, it will lead to a situation where people that are not contributing to the wealth of Lagos will come from other parts (of the country) to benefit from what is meant for Lagosians. And we want to put a stop to that.
“We are not going to discriminate as long as you are resident in Lagos.”
Governor Akinwunmi Ambode had signed the bill establishing the Fund into law and appointed members of its Board of Trustees.
The governor had said an annual contribution of N6.25bn would be injected into the Fund by the state government for four years, totalling N25bn.
Ashade said, “The guidelines are going to be very simple. The interest rate is three per cent. We are trying to promote financial inclusion so that people that will not be able to access credits of financing from the conventional banks will find succour and be able to do that through the Employment Trust Fund.
“Beyond that, it will also create the enabling environment for businesses to thrive in Lagos. Once businesses thrive in Lagos, they will provide more employment for the teeming population. We are ensuring that we remove bureaucracies in issuing necessary permits for private businesses.”
Ashade also stated that Lagos had the capacity to support the a-meal-a-day programme for pupils of primary schools.
“I am not speaking for other states. It is also beneficial to us that the Federal Government is contributing 60 per cent and we are going to provide a counterpart fund of just 40 per cent,” he said.
The commissioner said while some critics had argued that some states might not be able to sustain the programme, it had economic benefits for any state that adopted it.
Ashade said, “One benefit of it is that it will increase school enrolment and it will also provide the nutritional needs of our pupils. There is an agricultural value chain around that: some people will plant some of the food that we need to use for the meals not forgetting the vendors and transportation.
“These will also jumpstart some critical sectors of our state and some other states that decide to embrace the programme. I think the advantages are what we should concentrate on and not whether some states can afford it.”