- 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.
OPEC Agrees to Increase Oil Supply by 500,000 Barrels Per Day Ahead of Surge in Demand
OPEC and allies finally agreed to ease their 7.7 million barrels per day production cut by 500,000 barrels per day starting from January 2021.
This will now bring the oil cartel’s total production cuts to 7.2 million barrels per day starting from next year.
Oil prices rose after the news as the market believed the approval of Pfizer COVID-19 in the United Kingdom will kick start a series of approvals and helped restore confidence, increase business activities and demand for the commodity across the globe.
After the outcome of the meeting was made public on Thursday, Brent Crude Oil against which Nigerian oil is priced gained 1.35 percent on Friday after gaining 1.4 percent on Thursday to $49.37 per barrel at 11.35 am Nigerian time on Friday.
The US West Texas Intermediate gained 1.29 percent to $46.23 barrel on Friday.
“500,000 bpd from January is not the nightmare scenario that the market feared, but it is not what was really expected weeks ago,” said Rystad Energy senior oil markets analyst Paola Rodriguez Masiu. “Markets are now reacting positively and prices are recording a small increase as 500,000 of extra supply is not deadly for balances,” she added.
Investors King increased business sentiment in the energy sector to boost investment, increase activity in the sector and most important improve crude oil demand enough to accommodate the 500,000 barrels per day extra that would be hitting the global market starting from January.
Communities in Delta State Shut OML30 Operates by Heritage Energy Operational Services Ltd
The OML30 operated by Heritage Energy Operational Services Limited in Delta State has been shut down by the host communities for failing to meet its obligations to the 112 host communities.
The host communities, led by its Management Committee/President Generals, had accused the company of gross indifference and failure in its obligations to the host communities despite several meetings and calls to ensure a peaceful resolution.
The station with a production capacity of 80,000 barrels per day and eight flow stations operates within the Ughelli area of Delta State.
The host communities specifically accused HEOSL of failure to pay the GMOU fund for the last two years despite mediation by the Delta State Government on May 18, 2020.
Also, the host communities accused HEOSL of ‘total stoppage of scholarship award and payment to host communities since 2016’.
The Chairman, Dr Harrison Oboghor and Secretary, Mr Ibuje Joseph that led the OML30 host communities explained to journalists on Monday that the host communities had resolved not to backpedal until all their demands were met.
Crude Oil Recovers from 4 Percent Decline as Joe Biden Wins
Oil Prices Recover from 4 Percent Decline as Joe Biden Wins
Crude oil prices rose with other financial markets on Monday following a 4 percent decline on Friday.
This was after Joe Biden, the former Vice-President and now the President-elect won the race to the White House.
Global benchmark oil, Brent crude oil, gained $1.06 or 2.7 percent to $40.51 per barrel on Monday while the U.S West Texas Intermediate crude oil gained $1.07 or 2.9 percent to $38.21 per barrel.
On Friday, Brent crude oil declined by 4 percent as global uncertainty surged amid unclear US election and a series of negative comments from President Trump. However, on Saturday when it became clear that Joe Biden has won, global financial markets rebounded in anticipation of additional stimulus given Biden’s position on economic growth and recovery.
“Trading this morning has a risk-on flavor, reflecting increasing confidence that Joe Biden will occupy the White House, but the Republican Party will retain control of the Senate,” Michael McCarthy, chief market strategist at CMC Markets in Sydney.
“The outcome is ideal from a market point of view. Neither party controls the Congress, so both trade wars and higher taxes are largely off the agenda.”
The president-elect and his team are now working on mitigating the risk of COVID-19, grow the world’s largest economy by protecting small businesses and the middle class that is the backbone of the American economy.
“There will be some repercussions further down the road,” said OCBC’s economist Howie Lee, raising the possibility of lockdowns in the United States under Biden.
“Either you’re crimping energy demand or consumption behavior.”
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