The Bank has explained the delay in releasing the second tranche of the bank’s Growth and Employment in States, (GEMS) project grant, saying that the majority of grantees failed to meet agreed milestones prior to their selection to participate in the scheme.
The officials of the bank said the Federal government’s decision to restructure the programme by reviewing its design to align with new policies and priorities also contributed to the delay.
Against this backdrop, the GEMS project office in Abuja said it is gearing up to commence payment of the second tranche of the grant to grantees who have satisfied the conditions to proceed to the next phase of the programme.
However, reports say that the payment, which would be in batches, would be completed within the next two months and that the $160 million grant project approved by the World Bank Board on March 17, 2011 was to help increase growth and employment in Kaduna, Kano, Lagos, Jigawa and Cross River States.
The implementation timelines showed the project actually began in July 2013, while mid-term review was for June 15, 2016 and completion dateline for December 30, 2016. A revised schedule showed it actually began on October 15, 2014, with closing for September 7, 2018.
Since October 2016, grantees, mainly small and medium scale entrepreneurs, SMEs, under theYouWiN programme, got the first tranche of the grant, between 25 and 55 per cent, capped at about N10 million, to help finance the setting up of various employment generating enterprises.
The release of the second tranche, between 45 to 75 per cent, was dependent on grantees successfully meeting agreed milestones, based on a monitoring and assessment report by KPMG, the project’s independent monitoring and supervision consultants.
But, months after the first tranche, the long delay in releasing the second stirred speculations among anxious grantees about the fate of the project.
Some of the affected grantees said they left their paid jobs to enlist in the programme. Others said they were concerned with either the factory spaces they rented, or equipment they hired for the businesses, which have remained unused and piling debts they hardly anticipated.
Investigations at the GEMS office at the Federal Ministry of Industries, Trade and Investment in Abuja revealed only 25 per cent of the grantees were able to meet the agreed milestones.
“It was a sad development when KPMG, our independent monitoring and supervision consultants, came back with its report at the end of its visit to the grantees’ project sites in the company of some World Bank officials. Most of the grantees either collected the first tranche grant and abandoned the scheme, or were not using the funds appropriately to execute the business plan they presented to the programme,” GEMS monitoring and evaluation specialist, Emmanuel Amile, said.
However, the June 30, 2017 project Implementation Status Report published on the Nigerian section of the World Bank website by the project coordinator, Kofi-Boateng Aqyen, showed a total of 274 grants were disbursed to SMEs, 225 new grants signed, with over 600 business plans under review for further financing.
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