Chris Steven, Abuja
President of the Senate, Senator Bukola Saraki has assured traders in the various markets across the country not to panic as a result of the present harsh economic conditions as the Senate will always take decisions that will protect the interests of business and ensure the stability of the economy.
Saraki, according to a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Sanni Onogu, stated this when the leadership and members of the Market Traders Union of Nigeria (MTUN) visited him in Abuja where he also urged the traders to give priority to buying and selling locally produced goods so as to help reduce foreign exchange demands for imported goods.
The Senate President said the Red Chamber is working assiduously to restore confidence into the economy and get it back on the path of stability and growth once more.
Saraki said: “The issue of finance and credit is very important. We have said it in one of our 20 points recommendation to the President that the interest rate need to come down. Borrowing at between 20 and 30 per cent interest rate is very difficult to make any money for those of you who are into trading and we must do what we can to bring the rates down.
“This is an area that we are all working very hard to ensure it happens and also for the Central Bank to provide windows of special funds to support you. Today, in the Senate, we passed a law for the first time that will truly help small scale farmers because in the past all, the loans for agriculture have always gone to the big farmers.
“But today we passed a law to increase the amount available and we put a cap on it that no single person can take more than N10million because we know that majority of the big farmers cannot go and access that money. What we need is for the small farmers to get loans and credit. If we can improve agricultural production then there would be more Nigerian products in the market.
“I want to assure you that we are working tirelessly to address the economy, that is why meeting with market traders unions and anybody that has anything to do with the economy is our focus now.
“I want to assure you that a lot of things are being done. Definitely the most important thing is just for us to restore confidence in our economy. Investors have doubts. If you have an environment where people are either afraid or people are not sure that this is what you will get.
“We want to try and restore confidence back into the market and when we restore confidence the prices that are fluctuating right now will be stabilized. We are also ensuring that workers salaries are paid. I know that traders depend on salary earners who make purchases because it is when salaries are paid that your businesses would boom but when salaries are not paid there will be no business. We must ensure that salaries of teachers and other workers are paid on time because this would help stimulate the economy.
“These are the things we are lining up to do. Ours is to make sure that we stay focussed. I want to assure you that this Senate is pro-business and is determined to help people in businesses so they can succeed. We want to create an atmosphere such that your own capacity too can increase. If you have two shops you can increase to it to three. This is the way we want to support you”.
Earlier, President of the MTUN, Comrade Oludayo Akinte who spoke through the Union’s Legal Adviser, Barr. Remigius Ani said the visit was to enable the union identify with the people-oriented and leadership qualities of the Senate President.
He said the association was ready to partner with the National Assembly to fashion out legislative instruments that would enable traders in the country to have access to credit from the Central Bank in order to export Made in Nigeria products to other countries.
He stated that such development would help solve the acute price instability in the country, restore hope and alleviate the suffering of the masses.
“We believe that Nigeria economy shall be great when those of us at the grassroots have a sure and guaranteed financial base that would enable us explore our full potentials in assessing goods and services at moderate rates for onward reduced-price sales to the end users in the society.” Akinte said
Chris Steven, Abuja