Mrs Kosi Yankey Ayeh, the Executive Director of the National Board for Small Scale Industries (NBSSI), said the application process for the COVID-19 Alleviation Programme (CAP) is free hence no one should pay any fee for it.
The caution comes on the back of reports that some of the applicants were being charged between GH¢50 and GH¢150 to access the GH¢1 billion loan announced by the Government to mitigate the impact of the pandemic on businesses.
Mrs Ayeh, who disclosed this in an interview with the media in Assin Fosu, cautioned the public to be wary of such fraudsters.
“The NBSSI is not charging anyone to register and we are not going around telling people to pay any fee to register with us but what some unscrupulous persons are doing is taking advantage of the situation to make money, which is fraudulent,” she said.
Mrs Ayeh advised persons interested in applying to decline working with people who came around the markets posing as staff of the NBSSI or members of any association working for the Board.
Beneficiaries include businesses providing services in demand during the pandemic and which have the potential to grow and positively impact communities affected by COVID-19, as well as those focusing on digitisation to support Micro, Small and Medium Scale Enterprises (MSMEs).
The maximum amount a business could receive would be determined after assessment by the Committee.
“We are looking at kick-starting the schemes as early as this month. We just want to put in place structures to ensure that only deserving SMEs benefit from the support,” she said.
To ensure fairness and transparency, Mrs Ayeh said the Board had launched a portal that received applications for the utilisation of the soft loan scheme for MSMEs affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, with application forms available online on www.nbssi.gov.gh.
Businesses could also call the CAP Business Centre on 0302 477 777, or visit the nearest NBSSI Business Advisory Centre for assistance with their applications.
The Board has received more than 5,000 applications with more than 1000 people making inquiries on how to access the facility.
Government earlier announced a sum of GH¢600 million, which had been made available for businesses negatively impacted by the pandemic, but the amount was later increased to GH¢1 billion.
Out of the GH¢1.2 billion earmarked for the programme, GH¢600 million will be disbursed as soft loans to MSMEs with up to a one-year moratorium and a two-year repayment period. The interest is pegged at three per cent.
Additionally, selected participating banks will provide negotiated counterpart funding to the tune of GH¢400 million, summing up to GH¢1 billion for disbursement under this Business Support Scheme, with the entire scheme set to attract some 180,000 beneficiaries across the country.