The Federal Government, Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), and others have been urged to take urgent steps to save Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) from total collapse.
Dr Bala Mohammed, Chief Executive Officer (CEO), of Blueblood Veterinary Limited, made the call in an interview on Tuesday in Abuja, following the current challenges posed by government’s policy on Naira redesign and cash swap on SMEs and the economy.
Blueblood Veterinary Limited is a private animal health service provider.
Mohammed urged government to always consider small businesses when formulating and implementing policies of such nature, saying that small businesses or customers might not have bank accounts nor credit cards for cash transactions.
He noted that the policy had forced most businesses to switch to online financial institutions such as Moniepoint and Opay, which were hitherto considered by commercial banks as non-financial institutions, but were easy to transact with.
The CEO described their services as “very effective”, saying “we do not have any options but to adopt them so as to get value for services”.
He identified one of the negative impacts of the policy on animal health as disputes between SMEs and their clients, due to delay and inability to receive money for services rendered as a result of poor internet service.
According to him, veterinary services are largely offered in rural communities where internet services are poor and most farmers do not even have internet enabled phones, which makes transactions difficult.
He explained that most times when transactions were made online, either through banks or Point of Sales (PoS), they were declined, resulting in disputes and creating fears of insecurity over the use of such cashless platforms.
Mohammed, who cited poultry farmers’ challenge, decried that majority of them could not sustain production due to their inability to sell eggs, which was their major source of income.
“Poultry farmers that are on retainership can’t pay for services because they could not sell eggs.
“The ‘Indomie’ and ‘Maishayi’ pubs are major off takers of eggs, and majority of their patrons couldn’t pay due to cash crunch leading to acute egg glut and closure of farms.
“Many of those who sell or consume eggs have no bank account or credit card, a stalemate that has caused untoward hardship for those in the poultry value chain.
“This factor limits their sales and revenue, thereby hindering them from paying up for our services,” he said.
The CEO identified the overall impact of the policy on businesses as high cost of transportation due to fuel scarcity and cash crunch.
“Most of these transporters have no bank account where one can transfer money to.”
He, however, said the cashless policy, on the brighter side, had impacted positively on small businesses by curtailing operational wastage, loss of cash and rejection of bad and counterfeit notes.
According to him, the policy restricts spending on those things that are very critical. All expenses are now checked and receive necessary approval before purchases.
“Unlike before when unnecessary things are purchased, and this impacts negatively on the bottom line figure of our account.
“But at the moment, we now have a system where every one kobo spent is accounted for, which is the good side of the cashless policy,” Mohammed said.