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Strengthening the ease of doing business in Nigeria

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The Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council (PEBEC) last Thursday inaugurated its fifth accelerator aimed at rapid implementation of reforms for further improvement of the ease of doing business in Nigeria.

The Special Adviser to President Muhammadu Buhari on Ease of Doing Business and Secretary, Presidential Enabling Business Environment Secretariat, Dr Jumoke Oduwole, in Abuja said the National Action Plan (NAP 5.0) is the fifth of its kind since the establishment of the PEBEC in 2016 and will run from February 5 to April 4.

“The fifth National Action Plan provides us with another window to deepen and implement business climate reforms for SMEs.

” As is our custom, the upcoming reforms are being communicated to the public along with the agencies responsible and the expected impact so we can all jointly collaborate and actualise the progress of these reforms.”

Oduwole listed the areas of reforms to be delivered by NAP 5.0 as automation of the land registration process in both Lagos and Kano states in order to reduce the time for the application process by half.

“Reduce the number of inspections in construction permit through implementation of joint inspections by related agencies in Lagos.

“Improve the overall time by 48 hours in customs clearance at the ports by implementing full pre-arrival cargo clearance process,” she said.

The NAP 5.0 was launched by Alhaji Mohammed Bello, the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory and Oduwole at the FCT Lituation sub-national Ease of Doing Business event on February 4.

Bello harped on the importance of co-ordination between federal and sub-national reforms in the areas of starting a business, enforcing contracts, obtaining construction permits and others.

He expressed his administration’s readiness  to be a PEBEC case study by making the FCT more business friendly.

Over the last three years, Nigeria moved up 39 places from 170 to 131, on the World Bank Doing Business index.

During the same period, the World Bank has recognised Nigeria as top 10 most improved economy.

Some key reforms implemented since 2016 included the automation of companies’ registration by the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) and facilitating the legal frameworks for the operation of credit reporting bureaux.

More so, the use of movable assets as collaterals for loans in Nigeria.

The PEBEC was established by President Muhammadu Buhari in 2016 to oversee Nigeria’s business climate reform agenda and is chaired by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo with the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment as the Vice Chairman.

The PEBEC model aligns with global best practices and includes a strong performance tracking element to guarantee the delivery of reforms for the benefit of SMEs operating in Nigeria.

In October, Nigeria moved up by 15 places to 131 in the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business ranking. The country was 146th position last year.

According to the World Bank Group’s Doing Business 2020 study, governments of 115 economies around the world launched 294 reforms over the past year.

Buhari expressed delight with the World Bank’s 2020 Doing Business Index (DBI), which ranked Nigeria 131 out of 190 countries, up 15 places from 146th position last year.

The report also named Nigeria one of the top 10 most improved economies in the world for the second time in three years.

Nigeria is one of only two African countries to make this highly prestigious list. World Bank President David Malpass said governments can foster market-oriented development and broad-based growth by creating rules that help businesses launch, hire, and expand, adding that removing barriers facing entrepreneurs generates better jobs, more tax revenues and higher incomes, all of which were necessary to reduce poverty and raise living standards.

China and India made the top 10 list of governments that have done the most in the past year to improve the ease of doing business in their countries.

China made the top 10 list for the second year in a row, despite a bitter trade war in which the United States has demanded reforms from Beijing to protect intellectual property and open its economy further to American businesses.

China leap-frogged France to take the 31st spot in the ranking, also moving up 15 places just as Nigeria while India landed on the most-improved list for the third year in a row, moving up by 14 places to number 63 in the global rankings.

The report added that the country made it easier to start a business by abolishing filing fees, lowering the time and cost of seeking construction permits and making trade easier with port improvements and an improved electronic platform for submitting documents.

The other seven economies where business climates improved the most were Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Togo, Bahrain, Tajikistan, Pakistan, and Kuwait.

New Zealand continues to top the global rankings, while Singapore, Hong Kong, Denmark, and Korea are right behind with the United States, Georgia, the United Kingdom, Norway and Sweden completing the top 10 list.

With this year’s leap, Nigeria has improved an aggregate of 39 places in the World Bank Doing Business index since 2016.

The Doing Business Index is an annual ranking that objectively assesses prevailing business climate conditions across 190 countries based on 10 ease of doing business indicators.

The index captures the ease of doing business reforms that have been validated by the private sector and offers comparative insights based on private sector validation in the two largest commercial cities in countries with a population higher than 100 million. The report consequently features Lagos and Kano for Nigeria.

Welcoming the announcement, in a statement by the Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Chief Femi Adesina, President Buhari noted that “the movement of 15 places to 131 as well as the recognition being given to Nigeria as one of the top 10 most improved countries, that have implemented the most reforms this year, is significant because we were not even able to achieve some of the key reforms we had pursued, but what we have done so far is being recognised.

“This validation confirms that our strategy is working and we will continue to push even harder to deliver more impactful reforms,” he said

With the impending ratification of the Companies and Allied Matters Bill and the introduction of the Business Facilitation (Omnibus) Bill, 2019 in view, along with other pending and ongoing regulatory, judicial and sub-national reforms, the President declared that “the announcement by the World Bank indicates that our mandate to move into the top 70 doing business destinations by 2023 remains achievable.”

Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment and Vice-Chairman of the Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council (PEBEC), Otunba Niyi Adebayo, said: “The steady improvement in Nigeria’s ease of doing business score and rank is a testament to the reforms implemented by this administration over the past four years in line with the reform agenda being implemented at national and sub-national levels across the country since the establishment of the Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council (PEBEC) by President Muhammadu Buhari in July, 2016.

“The PEBEC works towards the fulfillment of the projections of the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP 2017-2020), which is striving to deliver sustainable economic growth in Nigeria by restoring growth, investing in our people and building a competitive economy as we work towards delivering Mr President’s mandate of bringing 100 million people out of poverty.

“The 2020 Doing Business report from the World Bank has reaffirmed the commitment of the newly constituted PEBEC to making Nigeria a progressively easier place to do business and removing the bureaucratic constraints to doing business in the country as we forge ahead in this Next Level,” he said

The Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council, chaired by His Excellency, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, with 13 ministers as members amongst others, has through the Enabling Business Environment Secretariat collaborated with ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs), the National Assembly, the Judiciary, state governments and the private sector to carry out over 140 reforms so far in a bid to remove bureaucratic constraints to doing business in Nigeria and make the country a progressively easier place to start and grow a business.

Oduwole said: “The private sector remains the fulcrum of the ease of doing business interventions. We are committed to more engagements among reform-implementing organs of government and the private sector players, and we are happy to see that these have resulted in a more favourable validation of the reforms by the private sector.

“This result will serve as an encouragement to sustain the deepening of these reforms and make them more tangible for businesses and the citizenry. The PEBEC is focused on delivering even more substantive reforms for the improvement of the general business climate.”

She noted that over the past four years, Nigeria’s score has steadily improved in the World Bank Doing Business Report, after years of decline in both score and ranking in the years preceding 2016.

She also recalled that in 2017, Nigeria moved up by an unprecedented 24 places on the Doing Business rankings, and was for the first time ever, recognised as one of the top 10 reformers in the area of doing business that year.

The All Progressives Congress (APC) said the Buhari administration is building a globally competitive economy for Nigeria.

Its National Publicity Secretary, Mallam Lanre Issa-Onilu, said Nigerian was poised, under the administration, to consolidate its position as Africa’s largest economy.

The party also hailed the bilateral agreements signed by the president with the Russian government on behalf of the country.

It commended the Buhari administration for its efforts to ensure that it delivers on its mandate and election promises to Nigerians, especially on economic development.

According to the party, since the Federal Government launched the National Action Plan on Ease of Doing Business, a lot has been done by the administration, in terms of the economic reforms, to provide the enabling environments for small and medium scale enterprises.

“The All Progressives Congress (APC) commends the President Buhari’s administration on the latest World Bank ranking, which sees Nigeria jump 15 places in the institution’s Ease of Doing Business global ratings.

“The Party also welcomed bilateral agreements between President Buhari and the Russian President, Vladimir Putin at the Russia-Africa Summit, to strengthen Nigeria-Russia multi-faceted relations, particularly on completing abandoned projects initiated by both countries, starting new infrastructure projects and expanding trade and investment, security and military cooperation.

“Contrary to uninformed and embarrassingly myopic editorial by a newspaper, indicating that foreign trips by President Buhari were tantamount to abandoning governance, this trip, like the previous ones, have proven to be very beneficial to our country.”

 

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