- FG Provides Update on Ease of Doing Business Index Effort
In response to the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business Index which rates Nigeria 169 out of 190 countries surveyed, the federal government through Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council (PEBEC) has provided updates on its effort to move the country 20 places up the standings before the end of the year.
Nigeria was adjudged one of the most unfriendly countries for businesses by the World Bank after scoring low on business enabling indicators such as trading across borders, payment of taxes, getting electricity, resolving insolvency, registration of property, getting credit and starting a business. Nigeria was 94th on the index in 2006.
Speaking at the March edition of the business dialogue organised by the Nigerian-American Chamber of Commerce in Lagos with the theme “Improving the ease of Doing Business in Nigeria”, Coordinator PEBEC and Senior Special Assistant to the President on Industry Trade and Investment, Dr. Jumoke Oduwole said the council has already swung into action and is being backed by the political will of President Muhammadu Buhari.
According to her, the council early this year gave the secretariat a task of coming up “with things that could be done within a short time to make an impact on our ranking at least 20 spaces this year. On 21st February, the council approved a 60-day national action plan.”
On what has been done so far, she said, “on starting of business, we promised reduction of registration time from ten to two days, which has been one. We are working with the states on reduction of time cost for registration of property. On electricity, the part that concern getting connected to the grid, the minister has given directives to the DISCOs to reduce the number of steps from nine to five.
On getting credit, we are working with the legislators to pass two critical bills within the next 30 days on the collateral pedigree and credit bureau to make sure that SMEs can have better credit access. On taxing, there has been lot of e-filling reforms and engagement. FIRS was on a tour of office training on all the steps that can be taken on the software and took feedback on usability issues from accounting firms that use the software.
Oduwole stated that among other measures, the president has issued a directive to reduce the amount of documents required for clearing goods at the ports.
“On importation, we found that Nigeria has about four forms unlike other countries and two other forms. The President has issued a directive that it should be reduced. Also, the new consolidated immigration form contains 15 questions, which is global standard for everybody departing. Nigerians don’t need to fill anything while coming in unless they have something to declare to the Customs.
We are working and supporting FAN and the Federal Ministry of Aviation to solve issues such as budget constraints, equipment, single window project for the sea port and airport: port community communication. All these works are ongoing. On starting a business, CAC and FIRS have integrated their portals so business registration is now easy. Please do notice the little changes. It will take time, but bear with us. We are working to make this climate conducive for business.” she said.
On his part, President of the Nigerian stock Exchange Mr. Aigboje Aig-Imoukhuede challenged the government to work on attitudinal change of agents delivering public services to ensure quality delivery.
The former Access Bank boss said the bank attained growth by committing itself to quality service delivery, hence Nigerian government must to see itself as a company that delivers services to customers and as such train its agency personnel in order to gain the trust of Nigerians.
“I don’t think we can change our ease of doing business rankings without changing the attitudes of those who lead our service delivery. For instance, until the Customs man says ‘beyond catching smugglers, I would cry with every importer whose goods are unduly delayed in our ports,’ we are not providing services. We are currently trapped in this constraint of our political and social dynamics where those who govern don’t understand that their job is to serve. It is that attitude that must change. Otherwise, it would be one step forward and Customs or Immigration taking twenty steps backward,” he stated.