Soft loans applications under Covid-19 package surge

APPLICATIONS for soft loans under the Covid-19 stimulus package have overwhelmed the government, the House of Representatives was told on Wednesday.

Minister of State, President’s Office, Labour, Economy and Investment Mudrik Ramadhan Soraga informed the house that so far there are applications for over 70bn/- against the 31.9bn/- allocation.

The minister dismissed as unfounded claims that the loans were issued on discriminatory basis, saying there are clear rules and regulations that govern the process, with all applicants treated equally.

Asking a supplementary question, Pandani Representative Professor Omar Fakih Hamad claimed that there is discrimination in the loan issuance, citing North Pemba region where applicants with similar qualifications were treated differently.

But, Minister Soraga assured the house that the fund targets all islanders without any discernment. He however said due to limited fund, it was not easy to provide the loans to all applicants at once.

He maintained that all needy entrepreneurs will receive the money. “This is a revolving fund; through loan repayments other prospective borrowers will get the money,” he said.

Answering the main question by Special Seats Representative Fatma Ramadhan Mohamed who wanted know the number of female beneficiaries, the minister informed the house that 10,929 women in Unguja and Pemba have received the loans.

In total, the fund disbursed 17.65bn/- to needy entrepreneurs between March 2022 and January 2023, the minister said.

The government through the Zanzibar Economic Empowerment Agency (ZEEA) in collaboration with CRDB Bank is coordinating the soft loan programme for small scale businesses as part of efforts to stir economic recovery in the post COVID-19 recession.

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