‘Commercial conditions hinder miners from accessing N5bn ASM-support fund’

Sani Shehu

Five months after the Ministry of Mines and Steel Development (MMSD) and the Bank of Industry (BoI) jointly declared five billion naira in support of Artisanal and Small Scale Mining (ASM) operators in the country, the Miners Association of Nigeria laments the inability of operators to access the fund, stating that government needs to review the stringent commercial conditions attached to accessing it.

While commending the Federal Government for providing the fund, the National President of the Miners Association of Nigeria, Sani Shehu appealed to government to review the terms and conditions of accessing the fund, saying that unless the conditions are reviewed, it will be extremely difficult for Artisanal and Small Scale miners to access the fund.

According to him, the stringent commercial condition attached to the fund contradicts the social concerns which inspired the government to create the facility.

Sani said: “As an association, the Miners Association of Nigeria considers the facility a welcome development” but bitterly lamented that five months after the presentation of a dummy cheque, not a single miner has been able to access the loan because the conditions are largely commercial.

“The government should therefore be interested at the level of disbursement over a given period to ensure that the philosophy behind the intervention is not derailed,” he said.

The Miners Association of Nigeria therefore advised the contributors to the fund to review the conditions that have led to the protracted delay in disbursement.

Stressing the need for downward review of conditions attached to accessing the fund, the president said: “As the umbrella association of miners in Nigeria, MAN commends the Federal Government for capturing artisanal miners in various financial intervention structures aimed to alleviate poverty, stating that the strategy is particularly supportive of the mining sector since mining operations in Nigeria is dominated by artisanal and small scale operators.”

Sani who lamented that various interventions like the Real Sector Support fund (RSSF), Small and Medium Scale Enterprises (SMEs) Fund, and the Export Stimulating Facility (ESF) are not accessible to small scale miners, appealed to government to consider the peculiar challenges associated with the mining sector and effect a review to ease the conditions attached to the 5 billion naira ASM Support Fund.

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