The House of Representatives has advised the federal government to restructure the National Economic and Reconstruction Fund (NERFUND) for efficiency rather than scrap it.
The chairman of the House Ad-hoc Committee investigating activities of federal government-owned Development Finance Institutions (DFIs), Rep. Emeka Anohu (Anambra-PDP), disclosed this in Abuja on Tuesday while briefing newsmen.
Consequently, the House resolved to invite all past top executives of the agency to account for its rot.
The federal government recently gave an executive order for the operations of NERFUND to be wound down and merged with Bank of Industry (BOI).
Anohu disclosed that the committee’s investigation revealed that NERFUND had ceased to perform its mandate of providing funds for Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) and large ventures.
He attributed the decay in the agency to the huge loans which it gave out without returns.
“What we are saying is that the federal government should not shut down NERFUND. Instead, we advise the government to reposition it.
“We are asking the government to pump more money into it but before doing that, it should be restructured.
“Our investigations have revealed that the agency was set up for a very laudable purpose of providing funds to MSMEs, which remained largely unachieved.
“The MSMEs still require cheap funding from the government, which can be better provided through agencies, like BOI, NERFUND, BOA and the likes.”
The lawmaker explained that the failure of NERFUND, like some others, was due to poor management over the years, diversion of funds to cronies, poor business models that could not support its operations and paucity of funds.
He stressed that shutting down NERFUND was not the solution, saying “Nigeria is in need of interventionist agencies like NERFUND, therefore, shutting the existing ones rather than restructuring it is certainly not the best way out.
“What happens to its existing staff and those it supposed to employ as a going concern, what happens to MSMEs it supposed to support and the jobs that would have been created by them?’’ he asked.
He disclosed that as part of efforts to ensure that the DFIs are encouraged to deliver on their mandates, the committee would invite all the past chief executives of NERFUND.
He added that customers that owe the bad debts that grounded the DFIs would also be invited to the public hearing to tell Nigerians why they refused to pay their loans.